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IOT App Development

IoT Evolution in The Retail Industry: 5 Use Cases

Prasanna Gopinath
August 1, 2019

The Internet of Things is taking the world by storm. It has become a buzzword in business and consumer electronics as well. IoT is basically a network of connected physical objects, embedded with sensors.

IoT devices seem to pop up everywhere. In fact, there are 127 new ones that join the IoT party every second. The market revenue worldwide is equal to $212 billion in 2019. Furthermore, it’s projected to reach $1 trillion in 3 years.

The Internet of Things affects most industries. Among the ones that would be most drastically changed is retail. It is set to transform the way the industry operates, manages daily operations and adapts to changes in the local and global market in these ways.

To be more specific, we’ve created a list of 5 revolutionary use cases of IoT in retail. It has numerous benefits to this industry, but let's have a look at some of the most important ways IoT will change retail in 2019:

Optimizing Supply Chain Management

Retail stores were able to track products without the help of IoT as well. However, the tracking information is pretty limited that way. GPS sensors now help you use IoT to obtain more precise data. You can see at what temperature an item is being stored or how long it took to transit.

All this data can be used to improve the quality of transportation. Furthermore, it enables you to act in real-time if a product is being kept at temperatures too high or low, to avoid substantial loss.

If your line of suppliers, transportation and vendors handling your product is rather long, it’s essential to keep track of where it’s located in the supply chain and how it’s handled. IoT can help you run the process as efficiently as possible and get your product into your customers' hands faster, with minimal or even no loss.

Automated Checkout

Long lines sometimes make customers give up on their purchase. When faced with a long queue, the majority of US grocery shoppers will head toward the self-checkout lane (65%) or choose to shop during off-peak hours (53%) when a store is less likely to be crowded, according to an April 2018 survey conducted by Forrester Consulting.

A queue can make customers abandon their cart. Furthermore, as a manager, it could be unprofitable to you to pay to more employees. That’s why IoT gives you the ability to set up a system that reads the tags of the items when a consumer leaves your store. An automated checkout system would calculate their sum and deduce the cost from the customers’ mobile payment app.

Implementing such an automated checkout system would make customers more willing to enter your store and save you money on salaries as well.


Beacons were first introduced by Apple back in 2013. They are small Bluetooth devices that send alerts to smartphones based on location proximity. In retail, this enables businesses to send discounts, special events, or other reminders to customers when they’re near a shop and have downloaded its app. That’s a great way to attract shoppers based on their location.

What’s more, along with helping customers in-store, beacons also send alerts to passersby. This can be used to effectively advertise promotions or in-store events. A great example of a retail company that uses them is Macy’s. Their app recognizes which area of the store you’re in. If you’ve entered the makeup section, the app will remind you of the makeup brands you liked online. This is a highly engaging technique, that can work like a magnet for shoppers.

Personal Discounts

Your frequently returning customers should be rewarded for their loyalty. You can create a loyalty program for which they can sign up. Using sensors is one way to go about it.

IoT enables you to track items customers has been looking at online and send them a discount for these specific ones when they are in-store. It’s also better for you to tailor each discount using IoT for maximal conversion rates, instead of offering general ones on a wide variety of products.

With the help of IoT, you can create personalized discounts for loyal customers, which would eventually attract more of long-term consumers. IoT app development could be what you need to easily provide them.

Smart Shelves

If you run a retail business, you probably have employees that are focused only on keeping track of items and making sure they’re never out of stock, as well as they aren’t misplaced on various shelves. Smart shelves are here to automate all these tasks, while also detecting potential theft. What else could you need?

Such shelves are fitted with weight sensors and scan the products on display and stock shelves. They inform you when a certain item is running low or is misplaced. This makes your inventory process way more precise and cost-effective as well. Furthermore, smart shelves are able to detect in-store theft, which also saves you money on security.

You might also like to add aisle-analytics software, that could use IoT to improve your retail layout. This would help you keep track of which products are most popular at the moment, so you can put them in the front, for instance.

The Evolution of Retail

The retail industry is highly impacted by emerging technologies such as Augmented Reality and the Internet of Things. The benefits to it are countless, as consumers seem to have growing expectations. We’ve listed five use cases of IoT in retail, but there are a lot more. In fact, it could be used in almost every aspect of the industry.

Creating an IoT prototype as a start could show you all the advantages it could bring to your company. As a top IoT development company, we could take your retail business to the next level by implementing this emerging technology.

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Prasanna Gopinath