For bricks-and-mortar retailers, one of the key challenges is to meet consumer expectations by matching the convenience and personalisation that online stores offer. And for an executive at asset intelligence company Zebra, the key to meeting this challenge lies in connected technology.

Wayne Harper, Zebra’s senior technical director for the APAC region, told IoT Hub: “Retailers are in a position to connect with customers through technology to offer a far superior experience – anticipating and surpassing their needs and expectations.”

Connected technology also gives retail staff the ability to provide an instant response to customers in terms of stock availability, and to complete transactions on the spot, Harper said.

“Wi-Fi in particular enhances the consumer’s ability to stay connected anytime and anywhere. With Wi-Fi, the second a shopper walks into the store, the point-of-sale expands from the register to the customer’s smartphone,” he said.

“As a result, the retailer can more closely and promptly engage the customer with its brand offering.”

Equally important is the ability to track assets with RFID and beacon technology, he said. Together with analytics, this technology can ensure that stock levels are constantly maintained both on the shop floor and ‘out the back’, responding to changing customer demand, according to Harper.

“Ensuring the right stock is available allows for sale closure and average basket uplift, ensuring associates do not leave customers, increasing average sales and customer satisfaction,” he said.

“Real-time stock availability ensures dynamic ordering and out of stock limitation ensuring stock replenishment from the moment a piece is moved from back office to front ensures customer satisfaction.”

Data from all of these sources can then be collated together and analysed, giving retailers a rich picture of the state of their business, and the steps that may be required to improve profitability and customer experience, Harper said.

“Multiple source data can allow for greater stock visibility, dwell time allows for store layout enhancements, dynamic marketing and more focused marketing campaigns.”

Harper said Zebra has been in the retail industry for many years with its range of inventory management products and services. But with the onset of the Internet of Things, the company recognised that retail success was no longer just about the devices – it’s about the intelligence that can be gained from the information collected from them, he said.

As a result, the company now has a suite of connected technologies to help retailers entice customers to their stores, improve the customer experience, and provide valuable insights, he said.

Zebra’s NSight platform, for example, leverages wireless networks and interacts with the retail store’s app, which can be installed on a customer’s phone, to understand their movements’ in-store. This gives retailers the ability to see where customers tend to congregate and move within their premises, and direct marketing campaigns and establish product displays accordingly.