Retail Megatrends: What You Need to Know About Connected Store

What will the Connected Store experience be like in 10 or 15 years? If you’ve had a chance to visit our booth #2738 at NRF, then you’ve seen some of the seamless experiences customers can expect and some of the powerful possibilities that retailers and consumers have to look forward to.

As for the Connected Store in 2014 and beyond, here’s what you need to know around megatrends in the Internet of Things (IoT), Big data, and mobile.

Internet of Things

We’ve actually been working with IoT in retail for quite some time – connected devices that are managed, secure, and able to collect, interpret, and send data. Take the RFID reader, for example. I know one company that pings up to 35,000 SKUs every 30 seconds in every store they have around the world. The ability to know the location of every single piece of inventory gives retailers the upper hand. They know when something is out of place, exactly how to locate it upon a specific customer request, whether to order more or to develop a promotion to sell more units. In essence, they’re able to make quick decisions based on real information.

RFID readers are just one example of what connectivity can offer. Other IoT-connected devices include digital signage, kiosks, vending machines, mobile POS, and more.  Everything should be able to sense its environment, collect data and make decisions based on that data.  It’s really not much different than what we’ve been doing online for more than a decade. Consumers and inventory are “dropping cookies” everywhere in the store. It’s up to us to identify them, analyze them and make decisions based on them.

Big Data

If you’ve been following Intel, you know that we like to talk about Big Data. In terms of how retail Big Data analytics are impacting the connected store, important innovations are being made with:

  • Inventory management solutions that analyze massive amounts of data collected from devices such as RFID readers to help anticipate the right product mix, determine optimal pricing, create promotions, and know inventory status in real time.
  • State-of-the-art facial behavior analysis that anonymously helps to determine how shoppers feel about a product or campaign.
  • Context aware marketing that uses data such as age, gender, weather trends, social media, and historical preferences to deliver relevant promotions and messages on the street, in store and on customer mobile devices.

These are just a few examples. Solutions such as Intel® Distribution for Apache Hadoop are changing the way retailers use big data to gain a competitive edge and add value at every step of the customer journey.

Mobile

Mobile is already bridging the gap between the online and in-store experience. Customers switch from a laptop or tablet at home to a mobile device in a coffee shop to a brick-and-mortar store and have the exact same connected experience.

When we look at what’s next for how mobile can influence the customer retail journey, what if we eliminated interaction with the POS terminal? If retailers know who the customer is, where the customer is located, and have taken proper security precautions, then why make the customer wait in a line at all? If the customer scanned and paid for the item with the retailer’s app on a smartphone, then they could just walk out of the store. There are some logistical hurdles such as the fact that these would be card-not-present transactions that incur higher fees, but once we overcome these, I believe mobile pay is going to be the norm.

The connected store is just beginning to come into focus. As IoT, big data, and mobile retail solutions mature, the customer retail journey will only continue to get richer. No one knows exactly sure what it will look like in 10 years, but I’m excited to find out. Keep in touch with me on Twitter @shopthefuture to stay up to date on new experiences in the connected store.

For more information about Intel’s Retail solutions, check out intel.com/retail.

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