For retailers, there is no busier time than the holidays, and meeting the demand of consumers requires efforts beyond low prices and helpful associates. More and more, retail organizations are leaning heavily on the power of IoT to keep them in the black.
In the first of a two-part series, we are taking take a closer look at back-end IoT applications that position stores to accommodate the increased demand this time of year. Here are six ways IoT helps retailers to optimize inventory and supply chain:
- Inventory management: You cannot sell what you do not have. Or more specifically, you do not know what you can sell if you do not know what you have. We are seeing a greater utilization of IoT applications working in conjunction with RFID tags and GPS to more closely track what is in stock and where products are located. This is especially important for organizations that complement their brick and mortar stores with online sales. Having clearer insight into both streams will help prevent overstocks and understocks as well as identify inefficiencies that can cut into the bottom line.
- Fraud and shrinkage reduction: Tracking sensors help to reduce theft by adding a layer of visibility and traceability. This is significantly helpful in preventing employee theft – knowing the tracking capabilities ahead of time may discourage a bad decision. If a product goes missing, its location is easily identified, which can help pinpoint the culprit.
- Delivery logistics: Being able to accurately identify available inventory is predicated upon knowing when assets will be in hand. Great strides in delivery logistics powered by IoT technology have offered visibility that lets retailers know – almost exactly – when shipments will arrive. And for retailers that offer online shopping, the same advances let customers know when to expect their packages.
- Fleet health: Sensors within delivery vehicles not only provide critical location data, but they can also monitor a variety of data points, such as when a truck may need preventative maintenance, which can reduce the risk of more costly and timely breakdowns.
- Condition monitoring: IoT sensors can measure environmental conditions through the supply chain that could have an impact on goods. The technology can also identify damages, recording when and where they happened.
- Automated supply notification: Smart shelves can let warehouse managers know when certain items need to be restocked or reordered. This allows retailers to keep a better handle maintaining appropriate inventory and more clearly determine whether or not items are selling as they should be.