“Location! Location! Location!”
That was the mantra of brick and mortar retail businesses until suddenly the disruption called online shopping or e-commerce turned their world upside down. While two decades ago the key to success for a retail business was whether they opened their store at the right corners, now the debate has moved to “How will we survive the online onslaught of Amazon?”
Enter – Proximity technology. You know how it is said that retail stores lose out to online because the latter is a win-win for both seller and shopper? Proximity technology, to a certain extent tilts the scale in favor of the brick and mortar stores by giving the consumer specialized options while at the same time retaining that one USP of retail stores – the fact that you can actually touch and experience the product right in front of you.
So how does it work? If a retail brand has its own app and a store fitted with sensory beacons at different spots, then a buyer who has that app and is walking into the store can get location-based extra information as and when they are in the vicinity of one of those beacons. Imagine a woman walking into a shopping mall, and as soon as she walks past a cosmetics store, her phone triggers a notification telling her of special discounts available only to her within a certain time frame. Now that’s a pull very few people can resist. I am sure you will find yourself among them.
The key is to give the consumer the choice to make an informed decision, and with the combination of beacons, geofencing, data gathering based on their shopping habits, it is actually possible to do just that. Needless to say, for this to happen there needs to be a IoT-based set up, where all of these sensors, mobile devices, products and real-time data retrievers can communicate with each other seamlessly.
From the retail industry’s perspective, Proximity technology could very well be the much-needed game changer in this tug of war with e-commerce. But for this, they need to be ready to adapt to the growing opportunities offered by IoT technology. It’s either that, or soon they could find themselves going down the same road as once-famous names like Sears, Toys ’R’ Us, Saks Fifth Avenue and many other brands that have recently filed for bankruptcy. Why? Because they could not adapt.