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In the retail industry, customer experience trumps product, service, and even price. Leaders in customer experience deliver, on average, 17% revenue growth, while those with poorer customer experiences deliver three percent over the same period.

Good Shopping Experiences Made Great

To meet and exceed customer expectations both online and in stores, retailers for years have relied on technology such as CRM systems. But today, new IoT technologies are emerging, giving retailers that adopt them a competitive edge.

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  • Many retailers, including Lowe’s and Target, use robots to roam the store and provide product, inventory, and promotional information.

  • Sephora stores now feature ModiFace, 3D augmented reality mirrors that allow shoppers to virtually test cosmetics while in-store.

  • Augmented reality can also be used for furniture placement, making finding just the right sofa or chair much easier.

  • Some retailers are using mobile self-checkout, giving customers the ability to scan as they shop and pay with their mobile or wearable devices, avoiding checkout lines and increasing convenience and simplicity.

  • Through in-store beacons, customers can receive discounts, news about special events, or other reminders on the store’s app. Macy’s, Urban Outfitters, Lord & Taylor, and Timberland have been using beacons to deliver promotions, news, and discounts.

  • Amazon has used robots for years to streamline fulfillment processes in warehouses and, more recently, has deployed drones to assist with speedy deliveries.

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  • Connected cars could order food items in advance and pay for them automatically when the car exits the drive-through.

  • Retailers also are using Smart Shelves to keep track of items to ensure they’re never out of stock, and to detect potential theft.

Coalescing Around Thing Management

Traditionally, CIOs and IT teams have been tasked with managing the back-end computers, software, and servers required to run retail businesses. With the advent of IoT technologies, their jobs are even tougher. The need to manage every Thing—from the store to the back-office—is more complex than ever for IT, finance, and other professionals in retail.

Many charged with managing all these Things still use a fragmented array of stagnant spreadsheets, a strategy that ultimately does not provide a comprehensive view into the asset ecosystem. They may rely on busy store managers to report when devices aren’t working properly, an approach that may not always be swift or reliable. They may manage things manually, leaving more room for error. Or, they try to manage Things based on information housed in departmental systems that inevitably have different data. Regardless, legacy asset management tactics result in poor data quality and unnecessary manual efforts to coalesce information. They also prevent any organization from having a true single source of data about the machines that power the in-store customer experience and the company.

Lack of intelligence about assets can lead to embarrassing situations with negative effects on customer satisfaction. For instance, imagine not being able to demonstrate a product because it is offline, needs an operating system upgrade, or has run out of battery power?

To manage the new barrage of IoT assets, organizations need to be aware of changes in the lifecycle of every asset, whether it is fully operational, stolen, lost, in need of maintenance, or ready to be decommissioned. What’s more, retailers need an automated system that ensures that all assets within the retail infrastructure are up and running, continuously. Customers, after all, will be disappointed in their in-store experience and in the brand if they came with hopes of trying a 3D mirror or interacting with a robot. A single source of truth for every asset is also essential for back-office functions such as budgeting, forecasting, auditing, reporting, and employee onboarding and off-boarding.

Introducing a New Way to Manage Assets

Next generation Thing Management is capable of tracking assets from purchase through decommissioning. With comprehensive, end-to-end Thing Management, retail organizations can avoid the time and costs associated with searching for asset information. They have intelligence about the new IoT devices in their stores and in their supply chains, from smart shelves to drones. They also can fully understand their back-end IT landscapes, including assets such as traditional computers, smartphones, and networking gear.

Thing Management makes security less of a worry—a crucial factor in retail, where devices often gather sensitive customer and financial information. Every retail device is a window into retailers’ store networks, so the devices and the data they contain must be stringently tracked and safeguarded.

For too long, retailers have struggled to get the information they need to effectively manage their organizations’ Things. The reasons: poor data quality, manual processes, and the lack of a shared system to serve as a single source of truth for assets. These issues have been compounded with the advent of the IoT.

With Thing Management from Oomnitza, top retailers including Ted Baker, Jimmy John's, Chico's, Apple, Square, and Stitch Fix are optimizing the customer experience.

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They realize that assets are now a crucial factor in every retailer’s ability to improve and prioritize customer experience activities to reduce friction and grow revenue.

As assets become a vital source of competitive advantage and increased profitability, it’s more important than ever to know everything about every Thing, both in stores and throughout the organization.

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