Retailers Ready to Put Cash Behind IoT

March 9, 2017         By: Steven Anderson

For those not already familiar with the Internet of Things, or IoT, it’s essentially just what the name says it is: a kind of Internet comprised not of Web sites, but rather of physical devices that perform a variety of functions. It’s used for just about everything from city planning to fleet tracking, and retailers are starting to see plenty of value here as well. So much so, in fact, that businesses are already planning big new investments.

Seeing IoT developments as a potential means to undercut some of the advantages online shopping offers over the brick-and-mortar experience, retailers are increasingly willing to buy in, according to the 2017 Retail Vision Study from Zebra Technologies.

With 57 percent of retailers believing automation will be the big force shaping the retail market by just 2021, and 70 percent considering themselves ready to invest, it was a clear suggestion that this market is ready to go in earnest.

Retailers can benefit from IoT systems in many ways, from inventory management to order tracking, allowing businesses to better know what’s on hand, what’s run out of stock, and what needs to be reordered soonest, like a continually-updating inventory system.

Consumers, meanwhile, get access to that same inventory system, to know what’s in, what can be ordered in, and what will likely never be on hand. Plus, it becomes easier to search for further information like reviews and the like with access to product numbers and similar matter.

This is a good sign for retailers; it was a safe bet that anyone not equipped on at least some level with IoT systems was going to be in a bad position to compete with the growing online retail trade. Throw in the growing numbers of mobile payment systems and users accordingly—imagine how exciting it would be to walk into a store, check for a particular item, order that item and have it delivered to either the store or to your house—and it proves there’s a clear use case for IoT systems.

Still, there’s a long way to go yet, but at least the retailers are willing to start making the necessary moves to face down the e-commerce landscape of the developing future.