HCI meets IoT: Bringing the online shopping experience to the offline world

June 30, 2015 | Posted by Sam Chapman

Ron Nov 06 - no tie, grey backgroundThis post is the second in a series examining the impact of hyperconverged technology on the future of data collection, analytics, and the Internet of Things.

By Ron Nash, CEO pivot3 – Amazon revolutionized the way people shopped when they applied advanced analytics to online retail activity. Today, thanks to companies like Amazon and Google, online retailers examine shoppers’ demographics, purchase history, and browsing history in minute detail in order to be able to curate the online shopping experience. If you’re a 50-year-old male and you have any kind of Internet shopping history, odds are you aren’t going to see an ad for a denim miniskirt when you go to a website, you’re more likely to see chinos and polo shirts. That’s because online retailers apply all of that user data they collect in order to offer shoppers the most relevant options.

Just imagine if this kind of data analytics was applied to brick and mortar stores. Using the Internet of Things and on-location data analytics, retailers could customize the physical shopping experience just like the online experience is customized.

Simple video feeds could utilize facial recognition software to track consumers as they move throughout the store or retail center, making note of shopping patterns and trends. Every piece of information about every purchase—time of day, price point, applicable promotion, user demographic—could be catalogued and applied at the purchase point.

What might this look like in live action? Picture walking into a grocery store to pick up a case of soda for a party. The video feed recognizes you as you enter the store, and an app on your smartphone triggers an avalanche of data that’s dumped via local processing into the retailer’s system. As you approach the soda aisle, the data feed informs the system that the last time you bought soda, you purchased Coke over Pepsi even though Pepsi was on sale. You were in the store less than six minutes, which signals an “in and out” trip that didn’t take a lot of thought. You’re over forty, and most likely have a high level of brand recognition. Finally, it notes that it’s an hour before kickoff on Super bowl Sunday, and you’re probably in a hurry.

You reach the soda display, and there’s an LED monitor on the shelf that shows the price of a 12-pack of Coke. But wait! Based on analytics, the computer knows you’re likely to grab the quickest, easiest option if it’s within a certain price point. Plus, you’re a member of the store’s reward program, so you get an extra discount. As the person in front of you moves away, the price on the display drops twenty cents on the dollar. You grab the Cokes, and you’re on your way—and the store records the successful transaction for future retail strategies.

This scenario will play out in just about every retail space you can think of. The IoT is estimated to generate $326 billion in revenue in the retail sector by 2018. Boutiques, car dealerships, pet stores, and drugstores will all provide the kind of personalized, automated service that until recently has lived only in our imaginations. The future is here, and it’s bringing a whole new dimension to retail therapy.





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