Retailers Grasp IoT Value, Along With Internal Obstacles

Many retailers see the value in the Internet of Things but also see a lot of shortcomings in their own ability to take advantage of it.

Retailers say that IoT solutions could help them with shoppers by better engagement and customer service in stores, according to a new study.

The study, the Internet of Things In Retail: Getting Beyond the Hype, also found that those same retailer see many organizational inhibitors to make the best use of the Internet of Things.

The study by Retail Systems Research (RSR) comprised a survey of 129 retailers, most (68%) of which have annual revenue of $500 million or more, with about a quarter (24%) of them with revenue of more than $5 billion.

It looks like the Internet of Things is at least on the radar of many retailers, with an eye toward driving sales and better engaging with customers. Here’s where retailers see the opportunity for using the Internet of Things to drive more sales and/or profits, according to RSR:

  • 63% — Closer engagement with consumers through their Internet-connected mobile device
  • 56% — Maintaining inventory accuracy in stores
  • 37% — Maintaining system-wide inventory visibility
  • 36% — Closer engagement with consumers through their Internet-connected fixed-location devices
  • 31% — Increasing the inventory available for cross-channel fulfillment
  • 25% — Post-sales service for consumers
  • 21% — Monitoring and predictive maintenance of equipment
  • 19% — Gain a deeper understanding of how internal processes are performed
  • 9% — Asset management
  • 5% — Tracking employees

In addition to improving in-store customer activities, retailers also look for IoT solution for operational issues. Here’s how the most successful retailers in the study expect the Internet of Things can solve some of their operational issues:

  • 48% — Inventory accuracy
  • 46% — Connecting consumers’ online and offline activities
  • 44% — Visibility into customers’ physical shopping behaviors
  • 37% — Speed of fulfillment to meet consumer demamds
  • 37% — Inventory visibility
  • 28% — Equipment outages and repair
  • 24% — Inventory availability for omni-channel demand
  • 22% — Visibility into customer’s digital shopping behaviors
  • 15% — Increased volume of returns is pushing us towards permanent item tagging

Despite the value retailers see in jumping onto the IoT train, they see plenty of internal issues that may get in the way. These issues range from leaders in the business not yet grasping IoT benefits to not having the internal or external expertise needed to get things going.

This is to be expected in a new and transformational change being drive by many new forms of Internet-connected devices and abilities. Retailers also have their hands full with a plateful of other issues. Here are the top organizational inhibitors that retailer see to Iot Opportunities:

  • 51% — Our existing infrastructure is not capable of supporting the Internet of Things
  • 47% — Business leadership doesn’t understand the IoT benefits
  • 40% — Our It team does not have the capacity to  take on IoT proijects
  • 36% — The capital outlay is too high
  • 35% — The technology supporting IoT is not mature enough
  • 33% — We have not identified a business case
  • 32% — Our solutions providers don’t have a compelling enough IoT story
  • 27% — We don’t have the skills to manage the analytics and predictive modeling

The good news is that many retailers see both the value in the Internet of Things along with what’s in the way of moving forward. That, by itself, is major.