For the last two decades, online channels have enjoyed a critical advantage over brick-and-mortar locations: easy access to data. And that data can make a world of difference when it comes to creating amazing experiences.
Online customers leave a trail of digital footprints everywhere they go, offering valuable clues about who they are and what they want. This means online channels can map the customer journey from start to finish, including which products or services caught the customer’s attention, what they searched for, what they put in their cart and what they took out.
With all this data at their fingertips, online channels have been able to redefine experiences, making them better and stickier. Personalized recommendations? Check. Automatic discounts for being a return customer? Absolutely. Furthermore, customers don’t have to find parking, wait in line or search shelves to get what they want.
Now, a new wave of IoT technologies for retail, banking, hospitality and collaboration in education and corporate settings is helping physical locations act more like online channels. These technologies collect data from physical stores, banks, restaurants, hotels, classrooms, meeting rooms and more — and apply advanced analytics and AI to this data to make experiences more immersive, personalized and frictionless.
Although retailers were among the first to begin adopting smart and connected technologies, today IoT and AI are critical focus areas for any business or institution that engages directly with customers. Intel understands the expanded role of analytics into the areas of retail, banking, hospitality and collaboration.
A new trail of breadcrumbs
E-commerce has forever changed how consumers expect to interact with businesses — which has raised the bar for every type of company. Even though customers still crave the tactile, tangible experience of brick and mortar, most physical locations just haven’t been able to compete with the ease and personalization of online experiences. Until now.
Today, much like an online channel, a brick-and-mortar location can provide exactly what the customer needs at every point in their journey. Let’s look at a few examples:
- Retailers can add RFID tags to their inventory to precisely track the movement of products throughout the store. This means associates can quickly find an item a customer wants to see. But it also tells retailers more about how customers are interacting with products — whether they’re taking them to the dressing room, abandoning them at the register or swapping them for other items.
- Interactive kiosks and digital signage can let customers quickly search for the information they need, such as the location and availability of an item, while telling businesses more about what their customers are looking for. They can also promote offers or make personalized recommendations based on the customer’s account information.
- By using IP cameras and AI-powered vision technology (an advanced kind of visual analytics), businesses can understand customer traffic patterns as they move around a store, bank, restaurant or hotel. This can reveal new insights about where they go, what draws their attention and what they spend time doing. The same technology can also help identify customer age range, gender and other demographics without capturing individual customer data, helping businesses cater to specific audiences.
Intelligence for the bottom line
Until recently, the technology to support these brick-and-mortar experiences was too expensive for most businesses. For example, a single location might have spent in the low six figures to add the cameras, networking, software and other infrastructure needed to map customer traffic patterns.
But the cost of hardware and software has dropped dramatically and is now roughly 1% of what it would have been five years ago. In many cases, deploying an IoT- or AI-enabled solution is significantly cheaper than remodeling a location while providing richer customer experiences.
While this certainly helps justify the cost of an IT deployment, it’s still critical for businesses to think about which specific pain points they need to address. For example, stadiums are competing for the attention of fans who are watching games at home via 4K streaming services. IoT technologies can help fans find and reserve a parking spot, order food and watch instant replays, all via a mobile app, helping deliver an unbeatable game day experience.
For a fast food restaurant, where the focus is always on speed, vision technology can help managers see how long customers are waiting for their orders and how effectively employees are completing tasks. They might use these insights to optimize staffing and workflows or find the best opportunities for automation.
Intel powers business transformation
Small businesses and large enterprises alike can get started with IoT and AI technologies with Intel IoT Market Ready Solutions. These are scalable, ready-to-deploy solutions that have been proven in the field. They also make it easy to pilot and test new IoT strategies, and then pivot if needed.
With powerful technologies and a strong ecosystem of solutions for RBHE, Intel is ready to help businesses give customers the incredible, frictionless experiences they want. Because as we all know, the customer is always right. To learn more, visit Intel.com/retail.