IoT and back to school retail

By | 3 minute read | August 18, 2016

IoT and back to school retail - girl writes on board

Back-to-school is the second biggest shopping season of the year, followed only by the winter holiday season.  This year, spending is projected to reach $75.8 billion dollars, the majority of which will be spent on clothing, shoes and electronics, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).

Back to school shopping made easy with the Internet of Things

Unsurprisingly, families seem to be looking for bargains, with 60% of back to schoolers planning to shop at a discount store. Shoppers are also interested in scoring deals by starting early, with 73% starting their shopping 1 or 2 months before the beginning of school.

At the same time, data suggests that shoppers are also looking for convenience. Over 80% of shoppers plan to take advantage of free shipping, while over 50% plan to order online and pick up in store.

As a mom, that got me thinking. How can the Internet of Things (IoT) help budget-conscious, time-strapped back to school shoppers have a better shopping experience? Here are a few ideas:

Click and collect goes curbside

If you’re a parent, you know that corralling your kids in store can be a monumental task. So I wasn’t surprised to see the already substantial demand for click and collect. But with the IoT, retailers can take the convenience factor even a step further.

Let’s say you’ve placed your online order. You’re headed to pick up your goods, and because you’re a parent of this century, you’ve got your smartphone in tow. Your retailer of choice employs geofencing, so as you approach the store, it triggers an automatic alert.  An associate comes out to the curb with your goods, and even helps you load the car.  No need to unload and reload the kids! Sweet, I’m sold.

Streamlined order shipping

Let’s say you’ve ordered new laptops for your kids online, and you’ve even managed to score free shipping.  Seems like it should be a frictionless experience, right? Maybe not.

Because after all, you work, and that job takes you away from your home during business hours. And those just happen to be the very same hours that the shipper can deliver your laptops, and of course, you need to sign for them. So after multiple delivery attempts, you end up having to go to the distribution center to pick up your package. Argh!

Fast forward to streamlined shipping with IoT. Thanks to location based services on your mobile device, the shipper gets an alert that you are home. Delivery is flexibly scheduled based on your availability, and you get a push notification letting you know that the shipper will be there within a half hour. Kick back, relax, and wait for your package!

Personalized offers

Let’s say you’re one of those folks who’ll shop either online or in store. You stop into your local drug store to pick up a prescription and some household supplies. Through a combination of IoT data and past purchase history, the retailer quickly identifies you and determines that although you’re a frequent shopper and you’ve got school aged children, you never purchased school supplies there (in fact, you plan to do your shopping at a discount store later that week).

Through dynamic store displays, the retailer is able to push you a flash sale notification for 15% off your back to school items if you purchase there, TODAY only. Since you’re a sucker for a deal, you head on over to the back to school aisle and grab what you need. Mission accomplished.

The ABCs of IoT retail

These are just a few of the ways that IoT can transform the shopping experience. IoT has the power to truly revolutionize retail, and most retailers are only touching the tip of the iceberg. How would you like to see your retail experience transformed with the Internet of Things?