At IoTS, we have written multiple times about retail IoT use cases. These articles tapped into many trends being predicted back in 2017. Now in 2018, many of those predictions are still looming ahead so the trend is unraveling as IoT adoption continues to improve.

Retail Automation: it’s common for technology to reduce or eliminate simple, redundant tasks. Cashiers at retail stores fit this model. With retail stores likeAmazon Go becoming more viable, we’ll certainly see disruption. But it’s important to note that I don’t see job elimination as much as job re-allocation.

Retail Supply Chain Management. There is no doubt at this point that retail operations will continue to improve from the IoT. From better inventory management to smart shelves and smart packaging, retail will continue to experience cost efficiencies and productivity improvements including shrinkage reduction, reduce transportation costs, reduced inventory-holding costs and so on.

The NetworkWorld article references “Ambient commerce” which the author describes as, “combining sensors and AI technology with the physical space associated with retail stores.” I find this trend on the edge as a test case. Sure, Gen Z will find this interesting but will happen broadly across the mainstream?

Retail beacons: if you are not familiar with “beacons” which have been around for quite some time, they are defined as, “small Bluetooth devices can send discount coupons, invitations to special events, and other messages to nearby smartphones with the right apps installed.” It’s a given, in my mind, that beacons will continue to be used in retail. The question is how long will it take before their use becomes incredibly annoying? If done in a highly relevant, high value and timely manner then it could be an amazing experience builder, If, as with most marketing technology, it becomes hugely interruptive, then I see this one fizzling out over time.

In-car retail IoT: the author makes an interesting point with in-car IoT relative to self-driving cars. I had never considered this use case and I do wonder if it is still a ways away. The author stated, “the concept involves a vehicle-commerce platform where consumers can shop right from their vehicles via “a safe and convenient connected car experience without driver distraction.” Interesting concept but I’m still questioning when self-driving cars will become a reality.

Retail IoT around consumer products: this one moves a little outside the type of retail IoT use cases we discussed previously; however, it’s an interesting exploration. There are some really practical consumer IoT applications that simplify music, traffic forecasts, communications, and such. Other consumer fads will fizzle out.

Only time will continue to tell if, when and how these trends may play out in reality. Some could occupy niche markets while others extend into the mainstream. Where there are cost efficiencies to gain, I believe we’ll see wider adoption. The cool, unique applications may find limited but high buzz recognition. The best part is the excitement in continuing to peer into the future to ask “what if” as the IoT technology improves and strengthens its experience.

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