IoT services help brick-and-mortar retailers create a cohesive customer experience

By Jasmine Henry

| Retail

You won’t have an easy time getting lost in Target stores with the latest IoT services for customers. “GPS for your shopping cart” is now live in 800 of the 1,800 stores operated by the retailer in the US, with plans to expand to over 900 retail locations by the holiday season, according to PYMNTS. Blinking lights and carts direct shoppers to the products they want, enabled by communication between mobile applications, Bluetooth-enabled carts and beacon technology in the store’s LED lighting.

In-store IoT innovations

This IoT innovation could make 2017 holiday shopping a lot less stressful and a great deal more cohesive for Target customers. Shoppers can now discover products at home through the mobile app or mobile website, and navigate their cart straight to the product in-store. Target gains opportunities to increase transaction size and cross-sell customers in-store through personalized product recommendations and coupons.

Though Target’s customer-focused mobile innovation is an attention-grabber, it’s not the only recent example of retailers using innovative IoT services and mobility to blend customer experiences in new, engaging ways. Lowe’s and other retailers have begun offering augmented reality experiences to help shoppers visualize their purchases at home. Others are expanding their apps to include mobile payments, with 9 percent of Starbucks orders placed ahead through their mobile app, reports Payments Journal.

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Cohesive mobile and in-store experiences

A mobile-first experience comes naturally to today’s customers. According to a survey by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), nearly three-quarters of consumers have purchased products through mobile apps for in-store pickup.

The survey also shows millennials are the most likely to use an app-first mode of retail shopping, with 86 percent using this approach. Though just 35 percent of consumers have used mobile payment methods, according to the ICSC survey, more than half prefer the brick-and-mortar retail experience to see products in real life before purchasing, sometimes by compiling a shopping list on a mobile app ahead of time.

Superior customer engagement

The majority of retailers are experimenting with IoT initiatives, with Beaconstac reporting 70 percent plan to integrate location-based mobile marketing initiatives by 2021. In addition to the Bluetooth-enabled carts at retailers such as Target and Lowe’s, some of the smartest ways organizations are engaging customers in-store involve retargeting and promoting products based on mobile behavioral data.


These initiatives might yield significant returns on revenue in addition to customer engagement metrics, such as the time spent in-store. MediaPost reports that a Koupon Media study on location-based coupon redemption reveals 58 percent of mobile customers redeem coupons in two minutes or less, while 65 percent will do it in five minutes or less.

For French hypermarket Carrefour, Gleantap reports the implementation of beacon technology for location-based marketing in-store has yielded 400 percent higher app engagement rates and 600 percent higher active app users in just six months’ time.

Innovative new mobile payment methods

Proximity mobile payments are an example of retail IoT services gaining a great deal of attention. Customers at Amazon’s brick-and-mortar bookstores can make purchases without wallets through a convenient, checkout-free system, reports Retail Dive. Payments Journal notes retailers that want to adopt the fastest-growing form of mobile payments must become “mobile-dedicated” to deliver a secure, uninterrupted payment experience to their customers.

The key to customer adoption is likely taking a cue from mobile-first retailers such as Target and Starbucks. These companies drive adoption through expanding the capabilities offered through a single mobile app. By integrating payments, offers and loyalty programs with in-store IoT services into a single, preexisting app, retailers can deliver a seamless, omnichannel customer experience. In addition to an improved shopping experience, taking a centralized approach to expanding mobile capabilities in-store can reduce retailers’ costs per transaction and increase customer offer acceptance.

Written By

Jasmine Henry

Jasmine E. Henry, MS

Jasmine is a commentator on emerging technology and freelance writer in the greater Seattle area. With a professional background in analytics, big data, mobility, and security that spans both the for-profit and government sectors, her professional interests include artificial intelligence…

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