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How stores are using the IoT to keep your favorite items in stock

online shopping
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One expert says retail is just the tip of the iceberg for the Internet of Things.

The number of physical devices connected to the internet is growing. It’s now in the billions. They make up the Internet of Things (IoT), which constantly collects and shares data.

The IoT is now revolutionizing the retail industry and experts say that’s the tip of the iceberg. A recent Microsoft survey finds 9 out of 10 retailers say connected technology is a critical component of their success. In fact, 92% have already implemented the Internet of Things in their stores.

The company Semtech has one of the fastest-growing technology networks in the world, supporting the Internet of Things with its LoRa devices.

Marc Pegulu is Semtech vice president of IoT strategy and products. “We are seeing a tremendous transformation in the industry with digitization, and it affects a lot of sectors,” he told WVXU.

Here are five examples of retail IoT, according to datamation.com:

  • Beacons, used by Macy’s, CVS, Urban Outfitters and others, send push notifications to phones while customers are in the store to offer special discounts.
  • IoT inventory tracking systems provide situational awareness for retailers and customers.
  • Automated self-service storefronts. IoT technologies provides a fully automated, end-to-end in-store shopping experience — guests need only walk in, select the items they wish to purchase, and walk out. Payment is automatic.
  • In-store robot customer attendants. These robots rely on a constellation of in-store IoT sensors and wireless technologies to help customers locate specific products.
  • IoT-enabled stationary sensors. They track customer movements during checkout, alerting store employees automatically when a new aisle should be opened. 

Pegulu says IoT is also being used for keeping track of how many people are in the store, how often it’s been cleaned and to ensure freshness of food.
He says the price is similar to what you would pay to install a wifi access point.

With more than 30 years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market, Ann Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology.