Retailers' Top Department for IoT Benefit: 55% Say Customer Service

Many retailers see the promise of the Internet of Things as learning more about shopping behaviors and quickly meeting consumer demand.

The least of the problems it would solve are dealing with equipment outages and inventory visibility, based on a new study.

The study, the Internet of Things in Retail: Great Expectations by Retail Systems Research (RSR), comprised a survey of 138 retailers, 47% with revenue in excess of $1 billion.

Most (80%) say the Internet of Things will drastically change the way companies do business in the next three years and 80% say it will have a dramatic impact on consumer products.

On the other side, about a third (34%) of retailers say their company has no idea how the IoT will impact their own operations.

Retailers see a host of opportunities in the Internet of Things, ranging from increasing the accuracy of inventory to better understanding how their internal processes work. Here are the top opportunities retailers see for IoT:

  • 49% -- Maintaining inventory accuracy in stores
  • 43% -- Closer engagement with consumers through their internet-connected devices (watches, phones, etc.)
  • 40% -- Maintaining system-wide inventory visibility
  • 40% -- New services offered to consumers through monitoring their internet-connected devices
  • 31% -- Gain a deeper understand of how internal processes are actually performed
  • 28% -- Monitoring and predictive maintenance of equipment and property
  • 20% -- Gaining more granular and real-time insight into state of business
  • 17% -- Automating responses to real-time events

Retailers also see the value in the speed of responding to IoT data to improve customer engagement, with almost half (47%) recognizing high value in real-time alerts to changing conditions

One of the more interesting insights in the study is in where retailers see the most benefits from IoT by department. Here are the departments that retailers say can benefit most from IoT:

  • 55% -- Customer service and support
  • 45% -- Inventory management
  • 41% -- Customer engagement in their home
  • 41% -- Store operations
  • 36% -- Customer engagement in stores
  • 30% -- Customer acquisition
  • 30% -- Marketing communication
  • 16% -- Transportation and logistics
  • 12% -- Maintenance and repair operations

For operational challenges that retailers see IoT as solving, visibility into customer shopping behavior and inventory accuracy top the list. Here are the challenges retailers see IoT solving:

  • 48% -- Visibility into customers’ physical shopping behaviors
  • 48% -- Inventory accuracy
  • 44% -- Speed of fulfilment to meet consumer demand
  • 41% -- Connecting consumers’ online and offline activities
  • 39% -- Visibility into customers’ digital shopping behaviors
  • 34% -- Inventory availability for omni-channel demand
  • 29% -- Inventory visibility
  • 16% -- Equipment outages and repair

At least many retailers appear to see the potential of the IoT as relating to customer-facing issues. And that could be a very good thing for customers.

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