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Emerging Application Areas for IoT in the Consumer Retail Industry

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Internet of Things is the talk of the town over in construction, manufacturing, healthcare, transportation and home automation. But we are yet to fully tap into the potential of IoT driven solutions to trigger disruption in and deliver value to the consumer retail industry.  

Enabling smart attributes and inter-connectivity to store assets can have a plethora of exciting applications: engaging customer experiences, leaner and more efficient store operations, products and services as well as opening up of new streams for revenue generation. According to Zebra Technologies, 7 out of 10 retail brands will be investing in IoT technology by 2021 and a few have already begun rolling out IoT powered smart stores and services. With more and more retailers looking to reimagine every aspect of their supply chain with technology, let us look at some future possibilities for IoT in the retail industry :

1. Creating Experiences with Lighting

Lighting devices are an ubiquitous presence inside any retail store and connected smart lighting can do more than save energy. Emerging technology is exploring avenues to utilize connected and automated smart lighting for retail displays to create superior customer experiences and indoor positioning, expanding the horizon for an experiential store.

Retail giant Carrefour partnered with Philips to install LEDs in one of their hypermarkets in Lille, France. Enabled with Visible Light Communication (VLC) technology, these LEDs emit a code which is readable by any camera on a smartphone, connecting the smartphone to a digital experience provided by the store. Customers can then locate items on their shopping list using the indoor positioning activated by the LEDs, experiencing an in-store navigation system. 

2. Smart Packaging and Digital Labeling 

Under the constant pressures of demands for more consumer transparency and capricious regulations, brands and retailers are running out of space on the physical packaging of products to put relevant information. IoT will play a major role in the future of the labeling and packaging industry as brands turn to technology to solve challenges related to packaging. 

QLIKTAG Software is providing solutions using their IoT platform to enable all products to have a globally unique identifier “QLIKTAG” and hence a digital twin, allowing “dumb” products to have a presence in and participate in the Internet through smart devices. These digital tags, consisting of barcodes, QR codes and Data matrix codes, pave the way for a vast variety of digital interactions like better stock and inventory management throughout the supply chain, product traceability all through its lifecycle, consumer transparency in multiple languages, product authentication, consumer feedback, insight and analytics as well as better consumer engagement experiences. Brands also save on costs incurred in reprinting and repackaging as these digital tags allow real time edits and updates of label content remotely. 

3. Smarter Inventory Management Solutions  

The future of retail will see increased integration of technology into brick and mortar stores and a more connected ecosystem giving rise to sophisticated experiences for both customers and retailers. IoT will enable the development of smarter inventory management solutions that will be capable of detecting and solving out-of-stock situations on its own.   

WiseShelf is converting shelves in retail stores into smart shelves to address the issue of shelf out-of-stock incidents. Equipped with light sensors, the shelves can detect when an item is removed from the shelf and send alerts to the management application through WiFi when it assesses low levels of stock. Apart from leading to more efficient restocking operations and inventory management, these smart shelves are also freeing up employees to engage in more customer interactions. They are also providing key data and analytics on popularity of products, enabling better design of store layout in accordance to foot traffic. 

4. Automated Events Of Supply Chain

Plenty of countries are plagued by an ageing population and rising labor costs and retailers as a result are turning to digital solutions to reinvent supply chains. Panasonic in partnership with Trial Company Inc. conducted a demonstration experiment for an automated self-checkout system with RFID tagged shopping baskets and products. The smart shopping baskets are capable of calculating the total cost and the number of items in the basket due to the RFID tags, generating your bill when you place it on the checkout counter. Not only does it allow automated billing, but on being placed on the self checkout counters, the bottom of the basket can open up releasing all contents into a bag, which the customer can collect and leave. 

5. Facilitating Omni-channel Retailing 

In order to consolidate online shopping practices with in-store ones, retailers are looking to ingrain technology into physical stores for a seamless customer experience. Ralph Lauren launched interactive fitting rooms in its flagship store in Manhattan, furnished with RFID tagged interactive mirrors. Powered by retail technology platform Oak Labs, the mirrors automatically detect and display the clothing items brought into the room along with available sizes, colors and recommendations for a complete look. Enriching the entire digital experience, customers also have the option to call an associate on the floor to the fitting room, to bring more items to try out for example. 

6. Reducing Food Wastage and Spoilage 

IoT could have vast implications in reducing global food wastage and spoilage, especially at the retail level. Wasteless, a startup from Israel, has successfully implemented IoT enabled digital pricing labels in an international Spanish retail store in an effort to reduce food waste. Using data regarding expiry dates encoded into the barcodes or RFID tags on labels, Wasteless’s platform enables a dynamic pricing system with the cost of the product dependent on its freshness, becoming cheaper as it nears its expiry date. The platform has led to reduction of waste by 33%, better inventory management and monitoring of products in terms of their expiry dates to reduce out-of-stock incidents as well as improved sales by allowing customers a more dynamic pricing range to shop from.  

7. Food Traceability and Quality Control 

The entire food supply chain will see a transformation as IoT enabled sensors and smart devices will become more common to track and optimize each supply chain event. With more demands for fresher food products and sustainable sourcing, these sensors will be able to collect and transmit relevant information like location, temperature etc to all supply chain stakeholders in real time. Consumers buying at retail stores can scan digital tags like QR codes, Data matrix codes or RFID tags on packaging to get assurance about the quality and provenance of the food product. 

Zest Labs is working to improve real time visibility for farm to shelf at all levels of the supply chain. Their unique ZIPR code (Zest Intelligent Pallet Routing) enables real time tracking and monitoring of the actual freshness of each pallet of food product, using a combination of wireless IoT sensors and cloud based predictive analytics and machine learning. The result is in supply chain managers being able to make better decisions about sending a particular pallet across a certain distance based on its freshness, thus preventing food spoilage in-transit. 

posted Nov 6, 2018 by Poulami Singha Roy

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With the rise of hardware and software platforms to connect every object in the physical world to the internet, Internet of Things is a technology trend that has come a long way. It is molding how people interact with their environment and how they have come to rely on smartphones and the internet to fulfill daily tasks and requirements. And similar to a lot of industries, it is also making its way into the food and beverages industry. IoT is making every aspect of the food industry smarter through a combination of IoT smart connected products gathering data throughout the supply chain and intelligent algorithms converting them into smart insights. 

Let us take a look at some applications within the industry that are already transforming how we think about food manufacturing, processing and safety.

1. Supply Chain Management, Traceability & Product Recall

A combination of digital tags on everyday consumer products and tracking sensors on transportation facilities can enable manufacturers to keep track of their products at every stage within the supply chain, leading to more efficient and leaner supply chain operations. Zeroing on and connecting to the source of production to initiate product recalls in case of damaged goods becomes simpler and faster by connecting every item on a batch and serial level to the internet. Brands can ensure ingredients for finished food products are all sourced ethically and responsibly while providing this information to their customers if individual ingredients are also hooked to the web. 

IoT empowers brands and manufacturers with improved visibility into the journey of a particular food item from source or manufacturing plant to the shelf of a retail store. Qliktag is an IoT platform that enables brands to connect everyday consumer products creating digital twins or counterparts for each item on the internet, allowing them to deploy them as connected smart products, sharing each of their actions across the supply chain. 

2. Consumer Transparency

In this digital age, not only are modern consumers used to being able to access vast quantities of information through their smartphones, the information has made them more aware of their world and the consequences of their consumption and lifestyle choices on the society and environment. 

Through means of scannable digital tags like QR codes, NFC stickers, data matrix codes, barcodes and RFID tags, brands have the opportunity to leverage the smartphone technology by choosing smart packaging as the medium for digital disclosure product information. The SmartLabel initiative, created by the Trading Partner Alliance (TPA), is a prime example. With the aim to digitize label content and champion increased consumer transparency, the SmartLabel QR code enabled products on the platform allow consumers to quickly assess important information like expiry dates, provenance, certifications and promo offers apart from an ingredients list, in attractive, interactive and easy to read formats.

3. Improved Food Safety

IoT is already being harnessed by smart kitchens and restaurants to monitor the temperature and other storage conditions of food items to heighten and maintain  product quality. In fact, there are quite a few innovative projects that are developing solutions that combine smart sensors and cloud based predictive analytics to predict certain pathogens before a potential outbreak occurs. SugarCreek Packing Co.’s plant in Indiana is a one of the many manufacturing facilities that’s hooking up each piece of machinery on the factory floor to the internet through smart sensors. These sensors that can detect biochemical and chemical reactions during the harvesting, manufacturing and transportation stages, allowing identification of certain pathogens and their removal before they move down the supply chain.

4. Leaner Inventory Management

Smart connected products can also be a game changer for IoT solutions in retail. Digitized products through smart packaging connecting to the cloud and updating their status autonomously will give rise to smoother and more efficient inventory management operations. Employees working in warehouses will have an accurate idea pertaining to the number of units per item and products nearing their expiry dates. IoT will enable simpler, smarter and more intelligent inventory management solutions that are cost effective, efficient and reduce wastage due to overstocking.

5. Reduction in Food Wastage

Smarter inventory management process will result in faster detection of expiry dates as well as more efficient stocking operations, reducing food wastage due to spoilage. Smarter storage and transportation facilities make it possible to control and maintain ideal conditions for food items so that they do not spoil. Smart connected products will be able to update details regarding their quality on their own in their digital counterparts, making it easier for warehouse employees to quickly identify any food item nearing its expiry date. IoT enabled intelligent processes can also help retailers to contribute more to food banks.

Zest Lab’s innovative ZIPR code (Zest Intelligent Pallet Routing) was developed with the aim to improve the efficiency of logistics post harvest and identify critical points across the supply chain where wastage occurs. ZIPR allows live tracking of the freshness of each pallet of produce using a combination of wireless IoT sensors and cloud based predictive analytics and machine learning, making it simpler to make decisions regarding how far a department store should a particular pallet be transported to, depending on its freshness.

6. Fighting Counterfeit Food Products

Enabling every single food item to have their own individual identity in the form of a digital twin on the internet does not just make it simple to track and update, but also makes it possible to separate from counterfeit items.  Both consumers and distributors down the supply chain will benefit hugely by being able to scan digital tags on food packaging to confirming their authenticity, eliminating large blocks of substandard and fraudulent food products in the market. IoT enabled smart connected products are powerful tools for brands to establish trust with their consumers by ensuring the genuineness and quality of their products.

7. Better Control on Food Quality

Smart transportation containers and refrigerators make it possible to control the environment for food storage remotely. Any changes to the storage conditions can be detected quickly making troubleshooting a far simpler process. Advanced and intelligent storage and transportation containers make it possible to maintain the consistency of a food product’s quality. 

Technology is the key to smarter, leaner and safer food processing systems that help brands create more intelligent and sustainable supply chain events that are transparent, cost effective and promote higher quality and safer consumption of food products.  

+1 vote

We’ve compiled a list some of the most prominent companies providing IoT solutions to consumer retailer brands.

 Let’s take a look:

 1. Qliktag

Qliktag IoT Connected Smart Products Platform allows brands and manufactures to assign a QLIKTAG or internet identifier to everyday consumer products and allows them to participate in the Internet of Things.  Enabling products to maintain a digital twin of themselves on the internet, which can be written to or read from using sensors on packaging and also with directly connected devices such as smartphones, barcode scanners, RFID scanners and more, expands the scope of IoT to a whole range of smarter retail and consumer applications such as personalized customer experiences, smart packaging & labelling, product recall management, reordering actions and much more.

 

 

2. Evrythng

Evrythng offers smart products platform and IoT services for consumer goods. Their Product Management and Data Management features allow retailers to maintain digital identities and real-time data to drive IoT applications and give consumer products a digital life.

 

 

 

 

3. ThinFilm NC Solutions 

Thinfilm NFC mobile marketing solutions allow brands to enable digital experiences with the help of smartphones. Its NFC open sensors technology or ‘smart tags’ offer end-to-end marketing solutions for brands and retailers.  Moreover, Thinfilm’s Product Authentication software offers global anti-counterfeit protections and product diversion detection.

 

 

 

4. Gimbal

Gimbal provides mobile marketing and advertising solutions to brands and retailers with the help of technology like location SDKs, geofences and beacons. Moreover, the Gimbal location management platform helps retailers maximize their mobile strategy and enhance the customer experience in real-time.

 

 

 

 

5. Kaa Projects

Kaa is an IoT middleware technology applicable for enterprise IoT development. It provides a range of features that allow developers to build advanced applications for smart products, flexibly manage their device ecosystems, orchestrate end-to-end data processing, and many more.

 

 

 

6. Wise Shelf 

Wise Shelf helps retailers optimize their in-store inventory and data by making regular shelves ‘wise’. These wise shelves are equipped with light sensors that immediately send data to management indicating restocking of the particular product when stock levels go down. The LEDs and sensors allow the physical shelves to participate in the Internet of Things. The platform is great for managing inventory and real-time store data improving supplier visibility while enhancing the customer experience.

 

7. Swirl 

Swirl is a mobile presence management and marketing platform for retailers. Using geofencing, WiFi and BLE, Swirl helps retailers to create unique digital maps for shoppers’ physical journey. This is done using a variety of location “signals” including GPS and geofences for outdoor locations like parking lots, malls, parks etc, and using WiFi and BLE  for indoor locations such as retail stores.

 

 

 

8. Memomi

Memomi’s digital imaging software platform enables retailers to deploy interactive mirrors in stores. The technology uses cameras and smart mirrors to deliver a futuristic in-store shopping experience to customers. Using simple body gestures and smartphones, customers can virtually try on clothes, change colours and even get a 360 view of your outfit, all in real time, eliminating the dilemma of running back and forth from the trial room.  

 

 

9. Authentic or Not

Authentic or Not builds microchips for apparel and fashion brands to help them participate in the IoT. By embedding their microchips in apparel and other merchandising brands, Authentic or Not claims to bridge the gap between technology and fashion. Consumers can hover a smartphone in front of microchips-embedded clothes to verify their authenticity. Their solutions can also be used for anti-counterfeit checks, logistics management and even for upselling products.

 

 

10. Queuehop  

Queuehop provides retailers with smart ‘anti-theft tags’ that brands can use to augment customers’ shopping experience. Consumers can pay for the products using Queuehop’s in-store kiosk or a smartphone. Once the payment is complete, customers can unlock the tag and simply walk-out.  A DIY approach to finding clothes, payment and self-checkout, the patent fashion technology helps customer hop those long queues with faster checkouts.

+1 vote

We’ve compiled a list some of the most prominent companies providing IoT solutions to consumer retailer brands.

 Let’s take a look:

 1. Qliktag

Qliktag IoT Connected Smart Products Platform allows brands and manufactures to assign a QLIKTAG or internet identifier to everyday consumer products and allows them to participate in the Internet of Things.  Enabling products to maintain a digital twin of themselves on the internet, which can be written to or read from using sensors on packaging and also with directly connected devices such as smartphones, barcode scanners, RFID scanners and more, expands the scope of IoT to a whole range of smarter retail and consumer applications such as personalized customer experiences, smart packaging & labelling, product recall management, reordering actions and much more.

 

 

2. Evrythng

Evrythng offers smart products platform and IoT services for consumer goods. Their Product Management and Data Management features allow retailers to maintain digital identities and real-time data to drive IoT applications and give consumer products a digital life.

 

 

 

 

3. ThinFilm NC Solutions 

Thinfilm NFC mobile marketing solutions allow brands to enable digital experiences with the help of smartphones. Its NFC open sensors technology or ‘smart tags’ offer end-to-end marketing solutions for brands and retailers.  Moreover, Thinfilm’s Product Authentication software offers global anti-counterfeit protections and product diversion detection.

 

 

 

4. Gimbal

Gimbal provides mobile marketing and advertising solutions to brands and retailers with the help of technology like location SDKs, geofences and beacons. Moreover, the Gimbal location management platform helps retailers maximize their mobile strategy and enhance the customer experience in real-time.

 

 

 

 

5. Kaa Projects

Kaa is an IoT middleware technology applicable for enterprise IoT development. It provides a range of features that allow developers to build advanced applications for smart products, flexibly manage their device ecosystems, orchestrate end-to-end data processing, and many more.

 

 

 

6. Wise Shelf 

Wise Shelf helps retailers optimize their in-store inventory and data by making regular shelves ‘wise’. These wise shelves are equipped with light sensors that immediately send data to management indicating restocking of the particular product when stock levels go down. The LEDs and sensors allow the physical shelves to participate in the Internet of Things. The platform is great for managing inventory and real-time store data improving supplier visibility while enhancing the customer experience.

 

7. Swirl 

Swirl is a mobile presence management and marketing platform for retailers. Using geofencing, WiFi and BLE, Swirl helps retailers to create unique digital maps for shoppers’ physical journey. This is done using a variety of location “signals” including GPS and geofences for outdoor locations like parking lots, malls, parks etc, and using WiFi and BLE  for indoor locations such as retail stores.

 

 

 

8. Memomi

Memomi’s digital imaging software platform enables retailers to deploy interactive mirrors in stores. The technology uses cameras and smart mirrors to deliver a futuristic in-store shopping experience to customers. Using simple body gestures and smartphones, customers can virtually try on clothes, change colours and even get a 360 view of your outfit, all in real time, eliminating the dilemma of running back and forth from the trial room.  

 

 

9. Authentic or Not

Authentic or Not builds microchips for apparel and fashion brands to help them participate in the IoT. By embedding their microchips in apparel and other merchandising brands, Authentic or Not claims to bridge the gap between technology and fashion. Consumers can hover a smartphone in front of microchips-embedded clothes to verify their authenticity. Their solutions can also be used for anti-counterfeit checks, logistics management and even for upselling products.

 

 

10. Queuehop  

Queuehop provides retailers with smart ‘anti-theft tags’ that brands can use to augment customers’ shopping experience. Consumers can pay for the products using Queuehop’s in-store kiosk or a smartphone. Once the payment is complete, customers can unlock the tag and simply walk-out.  A DIY approach to finding clothes, payment and self-checkout, the patent fashion technology helps customer hop those long queues with faster checkouts.

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