The Internet of Things (IoT) is emerging as the next big revolution in the retail industry. But what exactly does this imply?
The IoT is the ecosystem of physical objects that are interconnected and can communicate over the Internet or a network without any human involvement.
Imagine shopping at your favorite clothing store and when you spot a dress you like your phone will beep with a notification that you just received a loyalty discount! Wouldn't that be great? The IoT makes such a scenario possible, because retail stores can install sensors who can identify the presence of loyalty program customers and send them discounts on their smartphones when they are near the products.
Welcome to the world of IoT
When it comes to IoT, most people only think about smart home concepts and connected cars. However, there are many more applications to IoT than that. According to a report by Global Market Overview, The IoT in the retail segment is expected to grow 21% from 2017 to 2024. In recent years alone, retailers have embraced augmented reality, virtual reality, and data analytics to gain insight into customers and improve the customer experience.
With advancements in cloud computing, virtualization, networking and data science, the IoT is poised for growth to the next level. According to a report by Verizon.com, 77% of retailers in the market expect IoT and its applications to improve their customer experience. The IoT therefore marks the future of retail.
IoT enables retailers to deliver better personalized offers to customers. In the past, retailers sent mass promotions to customers in the hope that a certain percentage of recipients would be interested and show up at the store.
Using IoT, retailers can provide the best prices and product deals to buyers in real time. Most importantly, they can send relevant offers based on a customer's age, tastes and preferences and their purchase history.
The IoT helps retailers store all relevant customer information in a unified platform, and based on the data, store owners can customize discount offers, gift cards, push messages, e- mails and marketing campaigns for each individual customer.
For example, if a customer has purchased a specific brand of clothing from your store in the past, you can notify that customer when the new clothing line for that particular brand arrives at the store. This allows the customer to have an exclusive first glimpse of the new collection - a gesture that makes customers feel valued. This is just a small example of how IoT enables retailers to connect with customers and deliver the best deal at the right time.
Additionally, based on past purchases and browsing histories, retailers can ensure that only relevant offers are extended to customers. For example, a retailer should not send a promotion of baby diapers to a single male with no children.
Equipment readiness notifications
Gone are the days of unforeseen equipment failures and consequential product damage. The IoT helps predict problems or potential disasters with a retailer's equipment so that it can be remedied as quickly as possible.
For example, imagine the loss to the retailer if their large freezer unit breaks down overnight and half a ton of product thaws and deteriorates. If the freezer unit is enabled for IoT, critical systems can be monitored and proactive actions can be taken regarding maintenance and repairs.
Demand-based warehouse processing
The IoT takes inventory management and supply and demand planning to the next level. Eventually, most of the goods in the warehouses will be equipped with GPS and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification Devices) sensors which are followed by IoT automation.
RFID enables retailers to monitor the location and movement of products and, together with point-of-sale systems for online and in-store sales, allows inventory to be readily available in stores and shipping locations to ensure that items in high demand are never out of stock.
Smart transport with IoT
Moving goods from one place to another just got a lot easier with the IoT in the picture. GPS systems help retailers do this, but the IoT offers better tracking, route optimization, and transportation maintenance with greater accuracy. RFID enables precise tracking of products throughout the supply chain - from production to point of sale.
Companies can either store this information in their existing logistics information system or on an integrated and centralized application platform.
IoT-based smart store
The smart store is a fantastic concept that can be implemented by IoT, with the movement of visitors arriving at the store analyzed in real time. Advanced analytics can determine shoppers' in-store activities, including merchandise and product displays used, as well as shoppers and employee interactions. Additionally, IoT sensors and data analytics enable easy A / B testing, determining whether changes to store layouts and / or merchandising displays are successful in attracting and engaging shoppers.
Also in-store, beacons help retailers widely integrate IoT into smart stores. Using beacons, retailers can automatically send push notifications on discounts and offers to smartphones of shoppers in the coverage area, provide easy in-store navigation, and collect customer data to send relevant and personalized information.
Smart stores with IoT help retailers understand the customer thinking process and address challenges and opportunities by applying data-driven solutions to improve the in-store shopping experience.
Payments without a cashier
More and more frequently, IoT-enabled machines act as a cashier, providing your customers with an instant and hassle-free payment experience. Apps, cameras and other sensors are used and transactions are processed in a fraction of a second. In some retail segments, checkout lines will become a thing of the past.
In addition to verifying customers, alert mechanisms can be activated to detect if a customer takes a `` not for sale '' item (like a reusable bag, a test piece, etc.) beyond a checkpoint. When a breach occurs, IoT systems alert staff members to take action and provide services.
Robotic customer support
Retail store owners can use robotic assistants to meet and greet shoppers, as well as to explain product features and benefits. Robots can also be used to restock shelves and manage store inventory. A prime example is Lowe's new robot employee - OSHbot. This bilingual robot (it can communicate in English and Spanish) is designed to help shoppers find the products they want. It can also offer information about promotions and inventory.
Other retailers like Target and Best Buy also uses robots to stock shelves and manage store inventory, and restaurants are already testing the benefits of robot servers.
Digital signage solutions
Retailers have started using digital signage solutions such as iPad screens, intuitive touch screens, and in-store digital displays to engage with shoppers. Some digital signage formats use AI algorithms to analyze an entering buyer, then predict their needs and then display ads tailored to the buyer.
For example, if the IoT system detects that a mother holding a baby walks into the store, digital signage will announce a stroller with the caption "Why carry your baby when he can sleep in a stroller?" If the next person entering is a 10 year old boy, the signage will change to announce a Spider-man DVD.
These are just a few of the ways the role of IoT in transforming the retail industry is growing day by day. The rapid growth in online shopping has led retail stores to consider ways to improve the customer experience. And, IoT is one of their best bets.
The IoT will radically transform the retail industry in the years to come, enabling retailers to launch better targeted marketing campaigns and achieve higher rates of successful conversions. On the other hand, shoppers benefit from IoT when they have the best in-store experience and the best deals.
If you want to integrate IoT into your business solution, start by researching its applications, discuss it with market leaders on forums specializing in questions and answers on the Internet such as Quora, Discuss, Answers.com, etc., or attend various webinars on the subject.
About the writer: Samuel Alfie is a blogger at Discuss the evidence, the # 1 Q&A website with millions of wisdom seekers working together to ask questions and get the best answers. He enjoys reading and writing on a variety of subjects including technology, corporate e-commerce, science, philosophy, pop culture, digital media, and more. With a talent for writing, an enthusiasm for research and an editorial mind, he loves to create content that resonates with audiences.
Are you a retailer ( or retail sales associate ) who’s struggling with how to approach shoppers ? Worried that you lack the magic touch, or that you’ll come off as an annoying salesperson ? Would you rather be awkwardly staring at your store’s point of sale software screen than actually talking to the customer in front of you ?
You should keep reading because, after years of being one of the strongest sellers at my store, I can assure you : anyone can sell. That’s not to say it’s not going to take a lot of practice. But over the years, I’ve found that a customer will tell you verbally and/or physically how to sell to them. If you’re listening properly and looking for the right cues, you can always tell if a customer is interested in what you have to say, what approach to take with them, and what exactly they’re looking for.
Check out the tips below, put them into marche, and you should find yourself successfully closing sales : Practice Active ListeningActive listening isn’t just about standing in front a customer silently. There are a few important things you should be doing to engage in this practice :
The most important part of réactive listening is to not form a response while the customer is speaking. This is really to do, and is going to take a lot of practice. It’s very natural to latch on to one part of a comment and form a response to it, and then shut out the rest of the comment. tera become a good listener, a sales person must resist doing this. Active listening should engage your whole body. Things like nodding and having an open stance show the customer that you are listening to what they have to say. Once it’s time for you to speak, give the customer a quick summary of what they said. This has a few purposes. First, it allows you to come up with a response post-comment without things being awkwardly silent. Second, showing the customer that you heard everything they had to say will often open them up to providing you with more information than they initially supplied.
Practicing réactive listening means that you are fully engaged with learning what the customer wants. This engagement makes a huge difference. Not only will you understand what the customer wants in a deeper way, but you also gain their trust easier.
Next : Pay Attention to Body LanguageAlong with réactive listening, you should be practicing ‘active looking. ’ ( Yes, I just made that term up. ) People will betray a lot of what they’re thinking in the things that they do with their body. A lot of body language experts will tell you some odd things to look for, like watching if someone scratches their nose, but I don’t think that level of depth is necessary. In fact, I think that if you’re watching for a customer to scratch their nose, you’re probably not practicing active listening.
However, there is still plenty of body language you should be paying attention to while you’re actively listening. Let me give you a short list of tells you can easily pick up on during a conversation with a customer. 1. Eye ContactWhere a person’s eyes are looking is one of the easiest ways to tell what they’re focusing on. If the customer is looking at you, or the products you’re working with, that’s a good sign. It means they’re engaged with you and are interested in what you have to say and sell.
If they’re looking around, at someone else, out the door… anywhere that’s not where you are – that’s not a great sign. Usually if this is the case you should say something like, “Let me know if you need anything else, ” and let them do their own thing. No eye contact doesn’t mean you won’t be able to close the sale – but it could spell trouble if you don’t pay attention.
Hands/ArmsAnother important thing to pay attention to is what people do with their hands and arms. Typically, if someone’s arms are crossed, they are uncomfortable and probably not interested in what you have to say. You should tread gently : let this customer know you are there to help. If you’re talking with a customer who is clearly shy and uncomfortable with talking to you, I recommend acting in a more reserved manner and avoiding things like answering questions the customer has yet to ask. In addition, because this forme reflects a closed off mind, I mostly suggest avoiding suggestive selling. Suggestive selling does not work well on someone who is not interested.
Open arms and palms facing towards you, however, are an génial sign. If your customer has taken this sort of positionnement in your conversation, you’re doing well. In fact, I would definitely recommend going for it with suggestive selling. ( Of course, make sure you’re showing them items that are actually related to what they want, not just some pre-placed item that your directeur wants to get rid of. )
Facial Expression—Particularly the Curve of Their MouthLastly, you should be paying attention to the locutions you customer is making. This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s important to pay close attention to your customer’s facial termes. Even if a customer is pulling a straight face at you, most people’s mouths are fairly expressive in small ways. Often, the corners of the mouth will be curving slightly up or slightly down. Down is not good for you – it indicates frustration or annoyance. Curving up, though, is an extra sign. Additionally, you should pay attention to how tightly the lips are held. If they’re pressed tightly together, it can mean the same thing as crossed arms.
That’s the three major areas of body language you should be paying attention to while actively listening to your customer. Keep in mind that while the customer’s body can give you an indication about how they feel towards you and your product, it’s the listening that is going to yield you the important information about what they want. Now that we’ve established good customer reading techniques, let’s talk about what to do with the information you pick up :
Respond With Similar Body LanguageOne of the easiest ways to set someone at ease is to “mirror” their body language. You don’t want to go overboard on this – that can seem creepy or just mean. But little things are really important. Start with pace and timing. Is the customer in a hurry ? Or do they want to take things slow and steady ? Speak and act at the same pace as the customer. If she’s in a hurry, speaking quickly and speed walking across the store, then you should speak quickly and speed walk across the store as well. If she’s speaking slowly and moves slowly, your speed talking and walking will only come across as aggressive to her.
In addition, you can do subtle things like adopt a similar position, or use similar hand gestures. With the hand gestures, be careful. You don’t want to come across as mocking your customer. Don’t make juste replicas of hand gestures, keep it general. Determine if someone is ready to buy ( or not ) based on non-verbal cuesHere are a few more tips to help you differentiate shoppers who are ready to buy versus those who aren’t interested.
According to SCORE contributor Lee Perlitz, signals that shoppers are interested in a product include : Spending time looking at or discussing one product type – When a customer spends time focusing on just one product, there’s a good chance they’ve already set their sights on that one and are interested in purchasing it. Looking around for somebody to help them – Catch the shopper’s gaze when you see them looking around. According to Perlitz, you can approach them “if they sustain the glance or raise their eyebrows. ”Body language – A shift in body language signals “a change in mental state that may well indicate readiness to buy. ” For example, if the shopper suddenly styles relaxed after you’ve answered their questions, that could be an indication that they’re ready to buy.
Be sure to approach customers once you see them exhibiting these signals. Failing to spot these signs or not acting in time could result in you missing out on the sale. On the flip side, here are the non-verbal signals indicating that someone isn’t ready to buy. Avoiding eye contact – If a customer doesn’t hold your gaze when you look at them, it likely means they’re not ready to make a purchase yet. Making ‘not now’ excuses – Statements like “just looking” or “not now” are clear signals that they aren’t ready to buy. Perlitz recommends that retailers “make an encouraging remark to keep them looking and back off. ”Looking at many different products – Not being focused on just one product is another indication that shoppers should be given space.
When you see or hear people exhibiting the signals above, then it’s best to hold off on the sell. Figure out the type of customer that you’re dealing with and respond accordinglyAs you know, there are several types of customers who walk through your doors, and you need to tailor your approach accordingly. tera help you do that, we’ve put together a quick slideshow summarizing the most common variétés of customers in retail. Check it out below :
More tips ? Those are our tips and tricks to help anyone become a good sales person. It’s important to remember that truly good sales people work on creating trusting relationships with their clients before they sell them anything. If you are capable of creating a trusting relationship, you are capable of selling. These tips are intended to help you create that relationship.
What tricks to reading customers do you employ ? Let us know in the comments below ! Author Bio : Cara Wood is a digital administrative assistant at Capterra, a company that puts software buyers in touch with business software vendors ! When she’s not at work at Capterra, she can be found horse-back riding, reading and just generally having a good time at life.