STORES Magazine - May/June 2017 - 24
As relates to IoT, how would you rate the importance
of these capabilites in retail?
Customer Geo-location Enabling Sytematically Promotion Customer
flow nearby and mapping whole new
optimize effectiveness flow through customer management
the physical interaction across the
Source: RSR Research,
in the past - RFID autonomic process controls
and robotics and that sort of thing - that improve
the efficiency with which you fulfill goods."
When it comes to understanding the data that
today's technology generates, there is a significant
cost, Rowen says. "Retailers understand that
the cost doesn't stop there. They'll also need the
manpower to make any sense of it."
PROVING INVESTMENT WORTH
"Smart" dressing rooms are perhaps one of
the most-recognized use cases for IoT in retail;
they're being recognized as more than a cool techenabled capability. "Digital fitting rooms have a
lot of traction right now as a part of an engaging
experience," Hand says.
"The value to the consumer is three-fold: One,
knowing me, what I need and helping me in context
on the spot. Two, it's being a trusted, valued supplier
STORES May/June 2017
of goods that I'm going to go to first because you
always meet your promise to me. And three, it's
about an incomparable experience that strengthens
Yet Rowen believes the smart dressing room is
the most overhyped use of IoT. "I'm certain a lot of
people will disagree because of several high-profile
examples in luxury and fashion, but is this really the
most pressing problem facing most stores right now?
I don't think so. There's a lot more basic things most
brands need to work on to make the whole of the
store more interesting."
Hopkins notes that technology is there, but the
price level - and proven business case - may not
be. "Those are the more interesting technologies on
the experience side that are not necessarily thoughtthrough and will take longer. Automatic checkout,
as an example, sounds really cool but that's a stretch
because of the level of transformational change
to your customer, associate and store. It's not the
matter of a technology, but more of, 'Is it a priority
and do I understand the benefit?'"
Not every solution will be worth the investment.
"This idea of being able to walk out of a grocery
store without having to check out is quite
compelling," he says. "It's less so to a degree if I
have half a dozen items of clothing."
While some are heralding 2017 as the year of IoT,
one thing is clear: Change is needed.
"If your stores end 2017 the way they started
as far as experience, you've done yourself a real
injustice," Rowen says. "There is less and less
reason to visit stores. But some social part of
us does want to go out. I don't know if 2017 is
the year that IoT goes from hype to reality. But
it has to be the year that retailers start thinking
about how technology makes their stores more
One thing is certain: Those who like to innovate
are experimenting, and many are ramping up
"I like to tell retailers that Amazon isn't your
biggest competitor," Hand says. "But this
announcement around the checkout-less store is a
wake-up call about what's already here. If you don't
start figuring it out, Amazon and other disruptors
will do it instead of you. You need to get in front
of that and transform the ease and convenience by
which the customer is served."
Sandy Smith grew up working in her family's grocery store,
where the only handheld was a pricemarker with labels.