How the Internet of Things Will Change Retail Forever

In this day and age, everything is connected. From televisions to towel warmers, the Internet of Things (IoT) has allowed both consumers and advertisers to be more in tuned with how we interact with the world around us.

Although there’s still a fair share of brick-and-mortar stores out there, innovations like Apple and Samsung Pay, Amazon Prime and more have effectively changed the game and how advertisers are expected to play it. With IoT, though, the retail landscape is about to get even more interesting, and here’s how you should prepare.

The End of the Cashier?

Amazon caught the attention of the world when it opened Amazon Go, a convenience store in Seattle that takes the cash register out of the age-old formula of retail shopping. Shoppers scan their phones upon entering the store, grab what they want, and leave.

In lieu of a formal checkout, Amazon tracks customers throughout the store and records what they’ve picked up, recognizes when the scanned phone (and the shopper that owns it) leaves the store, and bills the customer virtually.

It’s what IoT is all about. It’s the idea that a physical object you own, be it your phone, smartwatch, headphones, appliances or any other tangible thing you can think of, can be connected to the Internet with the flip of a switch and in this case be used to marry e-commerce and physical retail shopping.

How Stores Have Gotten Smarter

The IoT is a powerful tool that builds the symbiotic relationship between store and consumer. A store that’s plugged in to its customers, their purchases and their movement within the store can track a lot more than just what they leave with.

Out-of-stock labels could be made a thing of the past with instantaneous data from electronic shelf labels on what customers are buying, when they’re buying it, and when more will need to be ordered. By generating data on customers’ movement, stores can chart what aisles get more or less traffic.

The consumer reaps an equal, yet opposite benefit—no more out of stock means no more disappointment and frustration that they’re unable to get what they need. Additionally, better planning of aisle placement erases overpopulated aisle ways and unnecessary traffic.

Though we may have a few years before the local corner store goes cashier-less, the growth of IoT proposes a lot of interesting new ideas about how to approach retail for the store and consumer alike.