Retailers are hyper-focused on enhancing the customer experience, implementing an omni-channel strategy and leveraging some sort of artificial intelligence technology. According to research firm Forrester, “Seventy-four percent of global business and technology decision makers at retail and wholesale firms say that improving customer experience (CX) is a top business priority over the next 12 months1 ” (Forrester Research, Inc., The Top Retail Technology Investments In 2018, May 2018).
Additionally, retailers are also looking to make sense of the wide variety of data collected from advanced sources via data analytics to provide them with insights and real-time information about customer preferences to add another layer of enhancement to the shopping experience. With 51% of all US retail sales in 2017 coming from digital impacts such as web and mobile apps, retailers are investing in their digital stores to serve customers through these omni-channel initiatives (Forrester, May 2018). Where is this new intersection of in-store and omni-channel data analytics going to take the retailer?
There’s so much tech and data and the premise of it is exciting, but technology developed for the sake of technology or for one of these priorities but not the other will not necessarily fit the needs of the business as a whole. The question is, what if you could invest in a technology that would enable a broad set of priorities? For instance, technology that can be useful for the retail store also can integrate data insights back into the mobile app for customers wanting to look for more products and ultimately make another purchase. Consider a technology laying the foundation to enable several strategic objectives built around your business case, which could be implemented at the right time for your operations.
That’s something Indoor Location Services can provide. In a recent report, Gartner “predicts that by 2022, 65% of enterprises will require indoor location asset tracking (both people and equipment) to be part of all access layers infrastructure communications decisions.(up from less than 10% today)2.” This includes both people and equipment. That’s a 55% increase from today’s 10% level.
That statistic could predict a shakedown continuing in the technology industry where technologies will be sorted out by three categories – what is good enough, just enough and future-proofed. A case in point, if you invested in beacons, you’re probably facing a management nightmare with battery replacement alone.
Looking at the retail store, good enough would be that technology that would connect your building systems and provide a central point of visualization. Just enough would be technology that would connect your building systems, providing tools to control the energy usage and management of the entire building’s systems. Future-proofed would go beyond both by establishing a sensory grid in the building to generate data from not only systems but occupants. The Indoor Location Services (ILS) would provide a foundation that could be easily upgraded, updated and augmented for services such as asset tracking (shopping carts), wayfinding/navigation (helping customers find products in the store) or operations (restock alerts). It would be a building that would become a strategic asset.
Retailers are feeling increasing competitive pressure in the marketplace, not only to be the store of choice for customers but also to provide an experience that lives up to their expectations. This is where technology will play a key role, and retailers will need to make a conscious decision to be disruptive. But there’s a way to embrace technology while also capturing a great reduction in carbon footprint.
Retail giant Target, for example, recently announced it has partnered with Acuity Brands, Inc., in leveraging intelligent, energy-saving LED lighting in some 1,800 stores nationwide since 2015 and that it will continue to do so in new stores going forward. In addition, the retailer has expanded on this technology, using the connected LED fixtures to interact with shoppers who opt-in to its Target app, to help them map their way through the store on their mobile phone Target has the capability to dynamically refine its relationships with its guests by leveraging the power of a single infrastructure of LED store lighting fixtures with built-in, location-based Indoor Position Services (IPS).
Imagine if 10 large retailers adopted the same technologies – that would be the equivalent of taking 700,000,000 million cars off the road. (While you rush to get this carbon footprint reduction, don’t forget to think strategically about Technology embedding intelligence in your luminaires to enable your most dense and ubiquitous sensory network!)
The question remains, how do you decide when to embrace technology? And the answer is, you do it when it makes sense for your business. Read about how Gartner recently recognized Acuity Brands as a Visionary in the 2019 Indoor Services Location Magic Quadrant.
2Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Indoor Location Services, Global, Tim Zimmerman | Annette Zimmermann, 28 January 2019
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