Welcome to the future! Customers are demanding better shopping experiences and instant gratification, while businesses need to meet those demands by reducing costs and increase ROI. Shopping methods are changing rapidly and the only way to keep up is by digitalizing your retail business and creating smart shopping centers.
Transforming the Shopping Experience with IoT
With the expansion of Amazon entering the grocery market industry with their smart grocery stores, other grocery stores around the world are scrambling to keep up. They’ve already transformed the retail industry through their online smart shopping, and this is just the next step in the overall smart shopping game.
Some benefits of smart retail businesses are as follows:
- Enhance Efficiency: Align areas optimally to their actual need and increase potential profit
- Optimize Comfort Parameters: Opportunity of intervention to improve parameters such as air quality, temperature, etc
- Increase Service Quality: Effective monitoring for aligning services and avoiding unnecessary use of resources
- Avoid unnecessary Costs: Avoid unnecessary costs as; heating, electric, light in unused spaces, and energy costs
- Enable Intervention: Set parameters to enable automatic data transfer, event triggering, notifications and optimization
Create new levels of added value and service opportunities for happier customers and higher cost-saving potential
- Derive business value from the physical property
- Remain Competitive
- Gain higher yield/ ROI
- Lower operating costs
- Build a network, connecting all the assets
- Quick scalability
- Real-time reactions
Diversity of retail building sensors currently used in our client’s smart retail facilities:
- Door and Window Open Sensor: These sensors measure a freezer door’s movements, determining whether doors are open or closed. (Used mainly in supermarket retail.)
- Waste Bin Detector: These sensors use ultrasound to measure filling levels in recyclables and waste containers.
- Environment Sensor: These battery-powered sensors measure both temperature and humidity.
- Brightness Sensor: These devices measure light, with data measurements being carried out over a period of 3 minutes.
- Occupancy Sensor: These sensors measure movements in the checkout area. Each cash register is connected to determine the number of customers waiting in line.
- Motion Sensor: This battery driven, retrofit sensor measures motion of people, temperatures, humidity and light.
- Sound Sensor: This sensor measures various sound types, enabling sound identification and event triggers based on sound
Case in Point:
One of our customers, the owner of a large fast food chain needed to significantly reduce energy consumption in all of his stores. The cost of energy was booming and therefore impacting his bottom line.
What steps did they take to overcome these challenges?
They monitored two specific branches in order to confirm that the the IoT project they went with, had a positive ROI. Energy sensors were installed on A/Cs, refrigerators and lighting. After running for one month, the branches displayed very different energy consumption patterns. Researching this further, they discovered that that the refrigeration equipment in one of the branches was faulty and the compressors were overworked.
Fixing the faulty equipment and performing period and proactive maintenance on the remaining equipment resulted in significant energy savings, all leading to to a green light for the project.
In this phase, the electricity monitoring was installed in all branches and locations.
The customer decided to install door sensors in the refrigerators, which sends an alert if the door wasn’t fully closed after a set time interval. Often times employees push the door close without the door actually sealing, and so the refrigerator needs to work harder to keep food cool. Leaving the door open overnight often results in food wastage.
In addition, the application was set to deliver alerts if lights and A/Cs were left on after hours. These were delivered to the appropriate manager and also customized for each of the branch’s opening hours (as well as by timezone). In this way, the lights and A/Cs could be turned off remotely by employees with access.
After handling the expense side so well with IoT, the owner of the chain turned to a customer facing application.
The goal of phase III was to develop a guest comfort score. Sensors were installed to monitor noise, smell, air quality and restaurant temperature. Data from each sensor were given a score and all scores were tallied up to create a guest comfort score that could be proactively monitored across locations. Alerts were sent out if guest comfort scores dropped below an acceptable level.
The system integrator is currently working on a project extension that can improve guest satisfaction. They are researching technology to track the time it takes guests to get their meal from the moment they enter the restaurant.
How the food chain benefited
- Started small
Taking the gradual approach showed immediate benefits and got the customer buy-in. Gradual expansion was possible because of their IoT platform’s ability to connect to any sensor/device.
- Scaled fast
Configuring an IoT project doesn’t require DevOps or engineers to be involved. Each phase took mere days to develop.
- Unified app/platform
Building, restaurant equipment and customer improvement efforts were all developed on the same platform, and managers could access output on the same app.
- Turned positive ROI quickly
Due to low investment in DevOps and quick development time, the initiatives showed a positive ROI very quickly.