It’s easier to shop online than ever before – you can shop on your phone, your tablet, your laptop or even through a digital assistant. Although it is clear to see that this trend is showing no sign of slowing down, is this a sustainable way to shop? Or could IoT pave the way to a more interactive retail experience to counter the e-commerce boom?
IoT is a catalyst for new opportunities in vending
While online stores have advantages over the cost of running brick and mortar stores, deliveries and returns create their own challenges for e-commerce. Smart vending is just one example of how retailers can utilise IoT devices to offer a completely customised experience for shoppers, without the need for a shopfront or staff.
Japan is ahead of the curve when it comes to smart vending – limited on physical space but with a booming population, vending machines offer a way for companies to sell their product directly to consumers without the associated costs of running a brick and mortar store. It’s a concept that is picking up internationally. Smart vending isn’t limited to snacks on the go – airports are using smart vending at the departure gate to offer travellers a last-minute chance to pick up noise-cancelling headphones, chargers or even toys to keep your children entertained. Another example would be the Costa Express vending machines, a common feature in petrol stations, offering tired drivers barista quality coffee on the go.
The advantages of smart vending go beyond just a smaller footprint and reduced staff costs. The ability to remotely monitor product demand, stock levels and maintenance requirements are incredibly useful. Need a boost in sales for those caramel lattes? Roll out a new advertising campaign to appear on the machine’s display or push out a special offer for locations off-target – all achievable remotely, based on real-time data.
Personalised digital experiences for the High Street will increase IoT data usage
We are witnessing IoT devices regularly processing over 200 gigabytes of data in a month, with more businesses discovering the opportunities presented by a higher bandwidth data, such as video streaming. What could a personalised, digital shopping experience mean for average revenue per customer? Companies seeking to maximise brand engagement and loyalty will need to offer more personalised digital experience and interactivity, which will increase revenue and customer loyalty. We’re already seeing a few instances of a digitalised High Street experience. Outform, utilised an interactive shopping experience to boost sales of smart home products for Home Depot, by using interactive displays to familiarise customers with the smart home experience before they left the store.
IoT connected devices could bridge the gap between e-commerce and high street shopping by offering a new seamless, interactive and efficient way of shopping. We can already see more companies investing in e-commerce parcel pick up points to drive shoppers back to physical stores, so it seems likely that the future of high street shopping becomes a hybrid of the convenience of online shopping and the advantage of a hands-on experience.