The IoT and Near-Real-Time Retail Personalization

Is this the retail sector's best hope?
Published: March 10, 2019

From websites to mobile devices to social media, technology has dramatically changed how brands and retailers connect with customers throughout the past 20 years. These days, retailers are embracing the Internet of Things (IoT) as the latest technology to drive a superior customer experience. The IoT, coupled with the right insight into customers, can provide a stronger connection between retailers and shoppers, delivering more value and increasing brand loyalty.

Shoppers are more empowered and connected than ever, and expectations are changing. Mobile phones have become handheld shopping malls, with social media playing an increasingly important role in driving purchases, collecting feedback and deepening brand loyalty.

While many shoppers still guard their privacy and set limits on their personal information, the majority now expect the companies with which they do business to know them and understand their habits. According to Accenture, 81 percent of customers want companies to understand them better. Retailers are under immense pressure to provide exceptional customer experiences to distinguish themselves in a highly competitive, global marketplace, and the only way to succeed is to put customer data—including RFID-generated information and the IoT—at the center.

The Data Challenge
Data is siloed across most enterprises, and online data sources are vast and growing. Gathering and interpreting that much data is difficult. Bringing it together to build the elusive 360-degree profile is even harder. To make matters worse, in-store shopper data collected from IoT devices—such as cameras, beacons, RFID tags and sensors—is often kept siloed from online customer behavioral data, limiting its value to the retailer.

By consolidating IoT data with other data streams (website traffic logs, point-of-sale, warehouse information, customer support and so on), retailers have the power to completely transform the customer shopping experience from a mass-market, cookie-cutter promotion to a personalized shopping experience. Below are a few data-driven strategies that retailers can leverage when it comes to implementing IoT technology in-store:

Use in-store IoT data to track and encourage consumer behavior.
Leverage data sources from sensors, beacons and mobile devices to identify and analyze in-store shopping paths. Combine that information with POS data to understand when and where people are most likely to buy, as well as their preferred methods and frequency of interactions. Also, when a shopper opts in to mobile apps, retailers can send a personalized offer based on his or her location.

Promote merchandise based on up-to-the-minute, relevant data.
Inform inventory and asset management by predicting consumer behavior based on local trends or area events. Promote merchandise based on what each customer is reading, watching or doing through the mobile app and other IoT devices. Maybe shoppers will want the same belt they saw in their favorite game or on their favorite show. Send them an offer so they are more likely to buy, or overlay local weather information to make storm-related or heatwave products easy to purchase.

Scan-and-go with RFID tags that carry the information consumers want to see.
Enable shoppers to scan in-store items with their phones for improved customer experiences, product information and shopping cart integration. Data suggests that customers are more likely to buy when they can see information about sustainability and composition, and such data can be linked to an RFID supplier tag offering data about its manufacture. For example, provide a copy of certification via an opted-in phone notification regarding whether a product is made of 100 percent organic Egyptian cotton, is fair labor-certified and so forth.

The IoT in retail is not something coming—it is here. The best way to compete in this new frontier is to offer a solution that helps automate as much of the information management and connected retail processes as possible.

Charlene A. Marini is the VP of strategy for Arm‘s IoT Services Group. Charlene is responsible for driving Arm’s strategic growth opportunities in the IoT. With extensive experience launching and growing new business initiatives, cultivating partnerships and developing technology and business ecosystems, she works with stakeholders across ecosystems to realize the value of the IoT. She joined Arm in 2004 and has held various marketing and business-development roles within the company throughout the past 14 years. Prior to working at Arm, Charlene was a system-on-chip design engineer. She holds an M.A. degree from Columbia University and a B.S.E.E. degree from Brown University.

To learn more about how Arm has taken a customer-centric approach by leveraging IoT data, check out the company’s new retail solution.