Another Christmas season is upon us.
This is the only time I do any shopping, since my wife and daughters seem to think that slogging it out on my own in a retail shopping adventure shows true love.
For me it’s simple, “Hello, Amazon!” Nowadays, I largely let my fingers do the shopping.
Of course, my wife and daughters hardly think this is enough of a safari hunt. They’re far more tactile, preferring the old-fashion way. You know: going to the store, walking around, browsing, and putting their hands directly on the merchandise.
They recently dragged me along for the ride to go to a clothing store, so I could get measured. Once we arrived, they scattered wide to pick out clothes for me. With each new find, they’d make me go into the dressing room and change endless times, like a runway model, to show them how awesome I looked in the clothes they’d picked out for me. Thankfully, I made it through our expedition into the wild safari of retail in one piece!
When I was earning my MBA back in the mid-1980s, I had to work in a group to accomplish one of the assigned class projects. I remember our team went to a nearby shopping mall in Manhattan Beach, CA to stake out various entries and exits to survey people who came and went. We collected survey data about the reasons why people came and went from certain directions to obtain information regarding which were the perceived “best” locations in the mall. After factors analysis had been performed, we then had a good list of the reasons behind why some locations were more preferred than others.
In today’s era of high technology, such a project seems antiquated. Today, more and more business-to-consumer (B2C) companies are exploring ways to use data driven, Internet of Things (IoT) technology to help them make important business decisions. IoT offers a compelling way to assist businesses with understanding new information regarding their customer’s purchasing habits and changing lifestyles. IoT endeavors to offer companies new options on how to see data in enlightening new ways, including tracking how people walk through and engage with their retail space.
IoT enables digitally-connected devices to obtain and manipulate data from sensors. IoT devices continue to gain exponential ground in the marketplace, according to the American research and advisory firm, Gartner. Gartner estimates that there will be more than 20 billion devices connected by 2020. Low-power products are allowing easy connection to the Internet. Challenges presented by the diversity and complexity of various ambient surroundings coupled with the need for secure data transmission and collection are those being worked through to enable an easier and more secure connection to the cloud.
In addition to the ubiquitous nature of IoT devices, applications involving big data and AI are exploding across the globe with new opportunities. Big data is an acknowledgment that the amount of information that we presently have is so large and often unstructured that it is not all yet sufficiently analyzed. AI offers us the chance to take larger sets of big data and mine it for potentially useful information and correlations that will provide businesses with new insights. These potential “new insights” will help Marketing and Operations departments deliver what customers want. They may even help me know what get my wife and daughters for Christmas. That would definitely provide new “insight!”
Amazon is moving into the retail food business. Subsequently, retail grocers (perhaps too late) are presently looking at ways to ensure that their inventory is always on-hand and immediately auto-replenished. Inventory merchandise can be more rapidly reordered, easily distributed, and quickly restocked by way of fast, robust, real-time, online tracking and monitoring of the merchandise location, carrier, method of shipment, and other useful information. Stores may be equipped to sense the presence of people and manipulate characteristics in the retail space to adjust and meet the needs and preferences of the customer. A customer’s personal wireless device, such as a mobile phone or the like, offers the opportunity to check in-store prices, receive promotional in-store sales and discounts, and enable target-based marketing to the consumer with a his/her current store location. Retailers can even monitor in-store traffic to analyze a shopper’s real-time shopping trail and experience.
Retail businesses face many challenges as the world transitions more and more to online methods of shopping. To survive and stay competitive among cut-throat competition, retail businesses will need to take advantage of every opportunity to differentiate themselves, provide exceptional value, and be efficient. Data-driven IoT and proximity marketing sensors will be key ways that companies, on the cutting edge of B2C, will respond most intelligently and successfully to their marketspace.
As for me, I’m content to limit my shopping experience to a gaze into my computer screen. I’ll let my wife and daughters enjoy the faux winter scenes portrayed in retailer window displays along with that annoying sound of “Frosty the Snowman” constantly playing in the background. Santa, that is my Christmas wish!
Paul Golata joined Mouser Electronics in 2011. As a Senior Technology Specialist, Paul contributes to Mouser’s success through driving strategic leadership, tactical execution, and the overall product-line and marketing directions for advanced technology related products. He provides design engineers with the latest information and trends in electrical engineering by delivering unique and valuable technical content that facilitates and enhances Mouser Electronics as the preferred distributor of choice.
Before joining Mouser Electronics, Paul served in various manufacturing, marketing, and sales related roles for Hughes Aircraft Company, Melles Griot, Piper Jaffray, Balzers Optics, JDSU, and Arrow Electronics. He holds a BSEET from the DeVry Institute of Technology (Chicago, IL); an MBA from Pepperdine University (Malibu, CA); an MDiv w/BL from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (Fort Worth, TX); and a PhD from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (Fort Worth, TX).
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