Omnichannel retailing has been on the tip of everyone’s tongue, but lately brands have looked in a new direction: the IoT (Internet of Things).
By 2020, it is estimated that consumers will reach or exceed the use of 50 billion Internet-connected “things,” according to a recent report from Gartner. For retailers, connecting to consumers through “things,” which include a never-ending array of devices such as mobile, wearables and other accessories, will become the default. Subsequently, service providers, vendors, fintech companies and retail consultants are pushing brands to adopt IoT early to capture market share as well as valuable data aimed at boosting sales and increasing consumer engagement.
Remodista, a social think tank that analyzes disruptive markets in global retail and fintech market, shed light on various strategies for retailers and brands to incorporate IoT. The firm uses “community as a business model” by connecting retail and fintech executives, tech and service partners and retail brands to share and analyze challenges, insights and solutions. Remodista plans to launch a subscription model for retail executives later this year, based on demand. Its community partners include Draper James, Rebecca Minkoff, Coach, HBC Digital and Keds, among others.
According to Remodista’s data, the future of retail is live customer engagement. Kelly Stickel, the chief executive officer and founder of Remodista, told WWD, “Retail is not failing, it’s transforming. We’re not losing the amount of retail that’s happening; it’s increasing. What’s happening is that customers are changing their buying behavior, and the marketer no longer owns the push of the messaging and the pull of the customer.“
The firm predicts that differentiating between “online” and “in-store” retailing will become a thing of the past. “The ‘e’ [of e-commerce] is irrelevant,” Stickel said. “People should be un-siloing their businesses,” she added.
Stickel’s recommendations include a rethink of omnichannel communication between retailers and consumers. “Omnichannel might be how a retailer is pushing out their messaging, but the strategy is no longer valid because IoT, LCD screens and other points of entry, your customer can come through hundreds of access points now, not just the ones [a retailer] deems out. People seem to be pushing omnichannel, but it’s really the customer journey.” She added, “The companies that are winning are the ones that are utilizing their data.”
Stickel suggests that retailers embrace IoT via three avenues: High-level tech in brick-and-mortar stores, such as heat mapping or people counting, to glean data on customer and product engagement; technology that interacts directly with consumers, such as smart mirrors or augmented reality, and IoT wearables, an emerging market that includes handbags, jewelry and a wide range of accessories that are empowered by or connected to devices.
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