Think about walking into a grocery store just five years ago. You will go to the freezer area, get a quart of ice cream and go home. The whole transaction is quite simple. It has absolutely nothing to do with interacting with the smart display.
Today, you can scroll Instagram and see an ad for a subscription ice cream service. You can ask Alexa to remind you to go get ice cream after work. Your crush might text you asking for cookies and ice cream with chocolate syrup, so instead of just grabbing a hat for yourself, you decide to take a different route home to go. through the grocery store. You use Waze on your car’s display to avoid traffic jams. Finally, you walk into the store, listening to summer bop on your wireless headphones. Music also puts you in the mood to buy ice cream popsicles. You leave the store with your purchase in hand.
All of those touchpoints represent just a handful of IoT experiences throughout your day. But none of them are controlled by the retailer where you actually buy your ice cream (unless you count yourself paying).
How can retailers join the IoT revolution?
Using IoT technology to enhance customer experience
The answer, according to one company, is through cooler doors.
The company, aptly named Cooling screen, was founded to fill a gap in the consumer experience — brick-and-mortar retailers don’t have many IoT connections. So Cooler Screens designed IoT-enabled smart displays to provide customers with a better shopping experience that combines what they love about online shopping — ease, relevance, transparency — with their in-store experience.
These specific displays have a variety of advertising functions, including full-door and banner ads, nutrition labels, and filters. When the consumer is within six feet of the screen, sensors switch and recommend products as the customer is nearby on a digital rectangle with real-time prices and promotions.
The real benefit to consumers — which will keep them coming back for more — is the ability to clearly display sales and nutritional information. This prevents strabismus. It reduces the need to open the door to check out different items. It also helps to make better decisions based on budget and dietary needs.
Helpful reminders can also increase sales
Displays can also promote packaged products, such as ice creams and toppings. This serves both retailers, who sell more units, and consumers, who enjoy a cream puff at the end of the day.
Thought leaders say future of IoT lies in creating favorable conditions for businesses and consumers. The Cooler Monitor is definitely in that category.
Another example of IoT devices that facilitate positive outcomes are price-checking scanners that have long occupied the aisles at Target and Walmart. Smart watches with Apple Pay, Square card readers that plug into mobile phones, payment terminals at restaurant tables, even iPads with patient information in the ward — all these apps bring benefits for customers.
Therefore, retailers should ask themselves some questions.
Am I using technology to help customers enjoy an efficient and enjoyable experience, like a pharmacy chain imagine using IoT plus AR to help customers navigate the store easily? Or am I allowing old technology or lack of technology to degrade the customer experience – and thus discourage them from returning? Am I making it easy for customers to find items and pay for them, or am I slowing them down?
Using IoT and AR to Power Supply Chain
Another potential benefit of these doors: track grocery store inventory in real time and use that data to model reduce supply chain problems.
Part of the appeal of Cooling Monitor technology is its ability to provide data to store owners, suppliers, and marketers. Technology that does this without collecting personally identifiable information, perhaps hits a sweet spot in the privacy versus information debate.
That data can be quickly evaluated and used to make purchasing, stocking, and supply decisions. There’s no guarantee it can prevent another panic-buying shortage of toilet paper. However, sharing data rather than just images of empty shelves can provide peace of mind to consumers.
With this information, how will stores and their shelves differ? Theoretically, this data could predict consumer behavior, reduce food and clothing waste, and increase profit margins. Quickly sharing information up and down the supply chain can also lead to faster movement in the chain.
Small retailers also benefit from IoT
The use of IoT technology does not only apply to large retailers.
The farmer’s market beekeeper can leverage IoT devices to make card payments and direct browsing visitors to her social media accounts. Boutique clothing store owners can ask customers to sign up for a digital waiting list for popular clothing items. Healthy food store owners can share digital coupons and monthly newsletters to build trust with the community.
In these ways and more, increasing use of trusted IoT technology can help retailers increase sales as well as brand loyalty.
IoT technology is ubiquitous and will only grow
We carry smartphones and smart watches. Many of us have smart devices attached to lights, fans, speakers, locks, and thermostats. We worked from a Bluetooth keyboard on our computer while Netflix streamed to our smart TV.
We have surrounded ourselves with IoT technology in our daily lives. So it only makes sense for retailers to keep up with the trends and help create a seamless all-in-one tech experience.
The Cooler display provides an interesting use case for retail use of IoT devices. Their test data shows that 90% of consumers surveyed prefer a shopping experience on a smart screen over a traditional shopping experience. Retail sales of retailers in cooled areas equipped with smart displays also increased 50-100% higher than other comparable stores in the region.
In the future, the display can be used for more than just advertising and displaying items.
It is likely that they will be used to further improve the customer experience. They can be voice-activated, so customers can ask for directions to a certain item. Stores using IoT technology can increase the use of touch screens (or better, non-touch screens) and contactless payment option. Customers can view sample products and place orders to be shipped to their homes. With this kind of innovation, the retail experience can only exist in digital gaming.
Featured image credit: Cooler screen. Thank you!