How IoT Optimises the Retail Experience
We touched briefly on how IoT could shape the future for smart malls. What edge could IoT possibly deliver in an age where online shopping is booming?
A recent IBM study found that 67% of Generation Z (defined as those born after the mid-1990s till the early 2000s) preferred physical stores. Yet they are also digitally savvy and expect digital-driven experiences; they are also likely to share those experiences online.
Retailers need to adapt to consumers like these and ensure they keep coming back to malls – IoT holds the key to that.
IoT: Going beyond physical buildings
The first thing mall operators need to understand is that the wooing of customers begins beyond a mall’s physical borders. It is too late to target them only as they walk through the entrance. Instead, they need to begin marketing to them digitally via websites as well as other online channels.
By having an online presence, malls can project themselves more effectively. The simplest way is to offer promotions that are in-store only while promoting them effectively online.
For instance, certain beauty brands sell their products online but to collect loyalty reward points, customers will need to make purchases at stores. Thus, customers can window-shop online, do research as well as ask ahead about product availability at the nearest outlet.
These loyalty programs and their accompanying apps can keep customers informed of ongoing promotions and are a way to receive targeted ads. Targeted ads can also be delivered via other channels such as email and SMS.
Malls can also use their own in-house apps to track footfall and gauge buying patterns. They can also be useful guides for customers to find stores and locations, easing as well as enhancing the shopping experience.
Besides apps, IoT can allow for data gathering from multiple sources such as point of sale (POS), Wi-Fi, and cameras, thus equipping mall operators and retailers with information to better inform various marketing channels, including email.
Hyper-personalisation is key
With the data gleaned from all the IoT data points, retailers and mall operators can develop a 360-degree view of a customer.
The data can be used to analyse the entire shopping journey of a customer, from their entering a mall to their choice of storefront or activity, and thus be able to map out their entire experience.
For instance, data on the level of service received by mall visitors can be collected directly rather than through unreliable and inaccurate customer survey forms.
All this will help create a tailored experience, for instance, being able to alert customer A to wine promotions and customer B to a certain department store’s big sale.
The end goal is to ultimately create an experience that will have customers making repeat visits and be more likely to frequent a particular mall.
Additional benefits for retailers
While the benefits of IoT in enhancing the customer experience are obvious, other advantages include being able to re-use the data collected to better inform purchasing decisions and assist inventory management.
IoT then becomes an important component of an overall marketing strategy that works in tandem with sales and daily operations, maximising its efficiency and utility.