IoT Framework for Retail Industries: Entering into the World of Connectivity

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The Introduction:

With over 160 convienence supermarkets countrywide, our client is known as one one of the most successful retailers of food, clothing and general merchandise in the country. The business has large facalities that sell lower-priced food items and general merchandise to the public. The company has expanded into franchise locations and the client was witnessing a history of constant success. They always kept their business strategies abreast with the ongoing market trends. Witnessing the era of connectedness, their company is on the path of engulfing smart database and smarter cloud infrastructure to improve its productivity.

Key Stats

IoT, as a term, might sound new to you but it has been in the industry for long. The fact that threat to security has risen exponentially, industries now seek to implement robust solutions that would circumvent all pitfalls in the existing system. Few figures that attribute to the above are:

The Problem Statement

Client was having a huge influx of items every week, as huge as 15000 products shipped each day. Storing, updating & managing such volumes is inefficient in the existing infrastructure. Alongside, tracking the addition or removal of goods manually is a tedious process given the fact that the company has a wide customer base.

Infrastructure

All of the above mandates digitizing the store. However, altering the entire infrastructure is not feasible for all organization. All-round digitization of the infrastructure means integration of barcode scanners, mPos along with network solution and cloud solutions.

Security

No doubt IoT solutions enhance the overall functioning of the retail sector, a huge volume of customer data enable marketers to direct their products and target customers. However, this also welcomes the threat to data privacy. Hackers and intruders could evade the system to drive user information.

Lack of Resources

Manifesting digital tools and technologies would definitely ease and automate the various processes but it also requires human personnel to monitor the same and analyze results to improvise their work culture. Considering that the digital revolution has just started, the industry still lacks qualified analysts. This is one of the most vital challenges faced when transforming the retail sector.

Our Solution

After studying the problems faced and assessing the needs, our team came up with the idea of integrating IoT framework in the existing infrastructure of the company. Though we earlier thought of simply upgrading the current software later, we decided to revamp the entire base of business using Microsoft Azure. Azure is highly flexible, adds new things in the presentation layer and integrates a multi-tenant architecture both for Generic and Isolated environment. Also, backing Azure with IoT enables Over-The-Air Firmware updates. Not to forget, IoT driven solutions when applied to the retail sector would improve in-store analysis, leverage customer engagement and promote multiple system integration.

The Results

Azure-based IoT framework proved extremely beneficial for the company. Not only in optimizing the industrial efficiency but also leveraging sales, at large.

  • Sales increased by nearly 35% in two quarters post complete roll-out.
  • Warehouse development time reduced by nearly 50%.
  • Prompt updates and notifications lead to frictionless shopping experience and growth in 30% overall revenue.
  • Azure has more than 30 global data centers so the retail services aren’t restricted to a single point infrastructure.

Detailed Evaluation

The developed IoT framework is a lot more secure and productive. The conventional infrastructure had various loopholes and failed to map customers expectations. Also managing data in real-time wasn’t organized. On the contrary, the database of Microsoft Azure has a tenant-based model of the database. The DB has a global latency and can effectively handle user requests during high order days. It becomes easy to manage and store data in real-time.

Using IoT based solutions like the GPS sensors and RFID tags, retailer’s can keep track of the good, right from its manufacturing to dispatch and finally, being placed in the store. Such sensors are extremely helpful when retailers need to trade perishable products. Parameters such as the external temperature or the time taken in transportation give retailers the benefit to improve the supply chain and monitor the same effectively. To keep the sensors and device communication secured, we used the feature of X 509 security certificate eliminating the risk of data loss stores in the cloud.

Furthermore, IoT based management solutions located on store shelves, video monitoring, RFID tags, digital price tags, and beacons, enhance inventory management. In the case of lower product inventory, the system proposes to place an order of sufficient volume as analyzed from IoT data. An integrating system with SAP solution automates managing service order. For instance, when the value falls below, the system itself places the order.

What’s more enticing is the personalized experience rendered to the customers. The integrated system has more of a modular approach. Customer requests and purchases are stored and used to segregate them into different groups. Custom messages and alerts are sent to customers to keep them updated on the new products added in the store. Automated checkouts eliminate the need of users to line up for hours before being billed for their goods purchased. IoT based PoS have tags that are read automatically as the customer leaves the store and charges them via an app. Such a solution is proven to reduce manpower and save customers time.

Future Prospects

The company adds innovation not because that needed but because they want to stay attuned with customers preferences. True that the world is pacing towards a mobile-first era but the company employs a customer-first policy. In addition to the integrated, the company plans to further embed ML-driven bots that can help customers scan for products across the stores.

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