Getting Personal: IoT Tech Helps Retailers Step Closer to Consumers

Personalization and Technology: Keys to Reaching Today’s Consumers

Being a retailer today is a much different experience than it used to be. As recently as five years ago, the formula for success was still simple: create and test a retail concept, eliminate unnecessary costs, and roll it out as fast and wide as possible.

But that model is broken.

The retail industry is undergoing a dramatic shift today, and it’s being driven by technology. Scaling at the brick-and-mortar level no longer provides an advantage, because you can start up an ONLINE BUSINESS at a fraction of the cost it used to take.

Technology is also having a profound impact on the way consumers engage with brands, and that impact is growing. Led by two billion Millennials — people between the ages of 18 and 34 — consumers now expect online and offline retail experiences to match. They are seeking a closer relationship with brands, demanding more interaction through social media and looking for richer, technology-driven experiences.

Retailers are also faced with another challenge brought on by technology: People now consume different media at different times of the day, on many different devices.  Brands and retailers need to interact with their customers across all those devices, around the clock.

Getting Personal

So how can retailers innovate to succeed in this new world? It’s all about using Internet of Things (IoT) technology to achieve a goal: personalization. Achieving data fusion, making real-time decisions, knowing shoppers, creating a conversation with them, and being predictive have become absolutely critical.

Some of these things are happening already, with retailers mashing up IoT data from sensors and other technologies with transactional, behavioral, environmental, and back-end management systems. They are using all of this data to push decision making closer to the consumer, enable satisfying experiences that are relevant and personal, drive operational excellence in the store, free up employees to be more customer-facing, and provide customers with a more meaningful experience.

The Need for a New Kind of IT Infrastructure

For many retailers, though, connecting to consumers will require entirely new IoT-enabled IT infrastructures based on tools that can support the delivery of next-generation experiences for shoppers. New infrastructures must also support real-time analytics enabled by in-store technologies and other types of sensors.  These infrastructures will have to integrate seamlessly with every technology touch point in the store, as well as with the devices consumers bring into the store, to make every IoT experience seamless and relevant.

Innovative New IoT Approaches Drive Sales

All over the world, we are already seeing some companies combining IoT technology and personalization in innovative ways. Here are just two examples:

.Pilot TV. Taiwan’s largest digital signage media operator, Pilot TV has 6,000 screens and more than four million viewers daily.  Over half of those installations are remotely managed, secure, and integrated as part of a smart IT infrastructure that delivers engaging programming, targeted advertisements, real-time content customizations, and relevant and personal viewing experiences. The company’s new IT infrastructure has driven 28 percent annual revenue growth from media operations.

.FITCH. A leading global retail and brand consultancy firm, FITCH worked with Asian Paints, India’s largest commercial paint manufacturer, to create the ‘Color with Asian Paints’ experience. Using RFID color cards, customers collect ideas for paint colors in their homes, then download and incorporate them into a personalized take-home color magazine.  Customers can also be guided by a color consultant to visualize their ideas in a virtual online room. The result: Asian Paints’ sales have increased by 35 percent.

In addition, the pace of innovation in traditional brick-and-mortar environments will need to be as fast as it is in the digital world. One way to quicken that pace is by creating the right IT base and infrastructure. With the right infrastructure in place, retailers can deliver shopping experiences that are fast and easy to deploy and intuitively responsive to the ever-changing expectations of today’s digital-savvy consumers.

As these examples show, the future of retail is all about truly understanding and engaging with a rapidly changing consumer, and delivering satisfying, rewarding, and value-creating experiences wherever and whenever the consumer wants to buy.

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