Internet of Things (IoT) in Retail – Self-checkout Kiosks

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IoT has emerged as an undisputed hero of the retail sector. From smart shelves to AR-enabled mirrors, IoT has taken retail by storm. It has not only reaped benefits for the retailers, but also has been successful in providing an enthralling shopping experience to the customers.

Smart shelves have already revolutionized the way retailers assort their products without having an adverse impact on their bottom lines. Another exciting offering from IoT is self-checkout kiosks. To put it simply, self-checkout kiosks help customers pay for their purchases without human intervention through digital means. In its most basic form, it can be thought of as an upgrade to the snack vending machine, but in reality, it is much more than that.

Self-checkout kiosks have evolved tremendously in the last decade. Many retailers use them to solve various issues related to billing such as long queues, cash management, RFID tag tracking among others. They have not been restrained to just being giant bulky machines that are capable of handling transactions. Nowadays, retailers can also provide mobile application based payments through QR code embedded on the products, contactless payments or such other means. This application enables customers to check out as and when they want instead of waiting for their turn in a queue. Though not exactly a kiosk, it enables self-checkout quite effectively.

Retailers have also come up with some really user-friendly LED touchscreen panels, which help customers make their purchase in a hassle-free manner while having a memorable shopping experience. These interactive kiosks are capable of handling multiple payment modes and can also keep track of the customers’ previous purchases and preferred promotions using an intelligent algorithm.

However, the problem associated with self-checkout kiosks is products being stolen. This can be taken care of by using smart shelves or by attaching efficient RFID tags, which would impel customers to put their products on the RFID remover once they are done with the payment, thus ensuring the safety of the products. Also, some customers might find them difficult to use, this issue can be resolved by installing LED touchscreen kiosks or by using mobile applications as explained earlier.

IoT is here to stay. It helps retailers to embark upon a journey that is both exciting and beneficial for them. It is the prerogative of the retailers to incorporate such smart technologies in their business operations to enhance their bottom line while providing the customers with a hassle-free and exciting shopping experience. Long live innovation! Long live retail!

Augmented Reality – the new normal in retail

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There has been a complete turnaround in the way retailers go about carrying their businesses in recent years. From quick online payments to fast product deliveries, retailers have incorporated various disruptive strategies to provide a hassle free shopping experience. But there are various other technological advancements that facilitate retailers in streamlining their business processes. One such advancement that has proved to be quite successful for retailers is Augmented Reality (AR).

AR as the name suggests augments or enhances our surroundings by enabling us to interact with the products we wish to purchase. Now, one may wonder why we need an enhanced environment for interacting with the products. Well, the idea is pretty simple, customers often search for the desired products online before making a purchase. However, it is difficult for them to understand the features of the product completely, resulting in a lost sales opportunity for the retailers. To not miss out on an online sale, it is imperative for the retailers to find newer avenues that lure the customers to make the purchase. In an era where handheld devices are commonplace, it easier for them to develop an application or an e-commerce website that can access the front/web camera of the customers’ devices and allow them to look at themselves interacting with the product through AR, thus, making it more easier for them to make the buying decision and thus, the purchase.

It is not limited to mobile applications and e-commerce websites; retailers having brick-and-mortar stores too can adopt this technology. For instance, apparel retailers can embed AR technology with their store mirrors converting them into smart mirrors. This helps people to experience the products without actually trying them. It is a great technological advancement that can also be used as a marketing tool as it impels customers to experience this at the stores. It helps in increasing the store footfall which in turn increases the chances of people making a purchase, resulting in an improved bottom line for the retailers.

AR also enhances the efficiency of the store in which it is used. It saves the customers’ time as they are not required to try out every product physically, resulting in less number of people queueing outside the trial room. Moreover, in a short span, a wide variety of products can be tried which allows the in-store staff to better understand the requirements of other customers, thus eliminating the possibility of a customer being neglected.

AR along with various other technological advancements has changed the scenario of retailing worldwide. It has been embraced by some of the biggest retailers across the globe and is all set to penetrate further into the retail space. Retailers should keep themselves abreast with such technological advancements since these shall become indispensable for them to maintain a prominent stature in the dynamic retail space.