Retail Systems Research: IoT in retail – between belief and barriers

While many retailers are setting up flagship stores or testing technologies in a selected number of stores, others have already implemented a range of technological innovations to enhance in-store experiences and optimize processes.

For several retailers, the Internet of Things is definitely part of the innovative applications they have been testing or have actually deployed. Obviously there are different ways in which the Internet of Things is used in retail.


IoT in retail: serious investments still have to be made

However, for many retailers the Internet of Things also still is a bit of a hype and serious investments haven’t been made so far.

While retailers seem overly optimistic about what the Internet of Things might do one day for them, most still have to start. That’s at least the conclusion of Retail Systems Research, which has released findings from its 2016 Benchmark Report, entitled “The Internet of Things in Retail: Getting Beyond The hype”. The report is based on a survey of 129 retailers.

Brian Kilcourse of Retail Systems Research LLC
Brian Kilcourse of Retail Systems Research LLC

Brian Kilcourse, who is managing partner at Retail Systems Research and co-authored the report, which can be downloaded after registration, says that the interest in the Internet of Things which retailers have, is fueled by a real and pressing challenge that they encounter.

Kilcourse in the press release announcing the new report: “retailers have struggled to integrate the store to an otherwise 24×7 anytime/anywhere selling environment”.

IoT in retail: common drivers, barriers and differences

Below are some key findings of “The Internet of Things in Retail: Getting Beyond The hype” as mentioned in the announcement of the report.

There are three main benefits of the Internet of Things that retailers see when asked about the internal challenge priorities which make them look at the Internet of Things:

  1. Inventory visibility and accuracy,
  2. The ability to interact with the digitally enabled shopper in the physical store and
  3. Making stores more effective for consumers.

IoT in retail challenges in regards with infrastructure, leadership and IT team bandwidth

One of the reasons why the responding retailers haven’t done more with the Internet of Things so far is the fact that they don’t believe their infrastructure can support ‘bleeding-edge technologies’.

Also the fact that executive leaders don’t fully grasp the benefits and thus are not pushing for IoT retail solutions is holding retailers back. A third barrier for adoption is the (perceived) lack of bandwidth of retailers’ IT teams, which keeps them from tackling new challenges.

Not all retailers are the same

Retailers have struggled to integrate the store to an otherwise 24×7 anytime/anywhere selling environment

A final finding which is mentioned in the press release of the report by Retail Systems Research, that is sponsored by Software AG, is that, although all retailers want a closer level of engagement with consumers via their mobile devices, there are big differences in regards to the emphasis retailers place, based on the types of products they sell.

These differences seem, for instance, great between what Fashion & Apparel retailers want to do with the Internet of Things on one hand and what FMCG and general merchandise retailers are looking to achieve on the other.

You can get the full report here.

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