According to Microsoft’s recent IoT Signals Report, the adoption of internet of things (IoT) solutions is continuing to escalate, with a projected nine-point increase over the next two years. This means that 94% of businesses will be using IoT by the end of 2021. And that includes retailers.

Retailers are increasingly implementing IoT solutions in countless scenarios to help them gain efficiencies, increase yields, and improve quality. Below I’ve outlined four of the biggest reasons that retailers are rushing to adopt IoT.

To see how IoT can transform your business, register for IoT in Action in New York, coming January 13, 2020—space is limited!

1. Streamlining and gaining visibility into the supply chain

Supply chain optimization accounts for 64% of IoT use cases for retailers, according to the IoT Signals Report. IoT solutions are providing real-time transparency into where products are, shipping conditions, arrival dates, and more.

With an OEM ecosystem that produces approximately half a billion parts every day, Bosch depends upon an efficient supply chain. According to Srinivasulu Nasam, GM – Center of Excellence: Cloud and IoT at Bosch, “It is imperative and essential for us to make sure that there is visibility of our parts and the parts are available, and our customers also know that the parts are available….”

To gain the visibility they needed, Bosch created the Trac360 solution which leverages Microsoft IoT products. Trac360 enables real-time tracking of parts and shipments, providing end-to-end visibility, shipping transparency and traceability, real-time insights, and automated warehouse operations such as GPS tracking, notifications, and invoice processing. The solution has increased customer satisfaction and warehouse productivity while also reducing inventory costs.

2. Making inventory management easier and more accurate

Whether it’s on display or in the warehouse, keeping track of inventory can be expensive and time consuming. It’s no wonder that inventory optimization accounts for 59% of IoT use cases for retailers.

IoT solutions can help automate inventory management and ensure that products are on hand, visible, and correctly labeled for customers. IoT sensors deliver alerts when inventory levels fall below expected balances and can even provide notifications when products are mislabeled or misplaced.

MARS DRINKS uses IoT to automate inventory management for their KLIX vending machines. In addition to providing predictive maintenance and route optimization for service experts, their IoT solution helps keep drinks in stock. Additionally, by analyzing data trends, MARS DRINKS can adjust stock for seasonality and even weather patterns.

3. Saving energy and money

Lighting, heating, and cooling account for substantial costs, and energy management can be difficult. Retailers are using IoT to reduce energy usage as well as their carbon footprint, with energy optimization accounting for 40% of use cases.

IoT solutions can help retailers drive down energy costs while increasing sustainability through spaces that sense and adapt to energy usage, weather conditions, and other factors. This not only represents a substantial cost savings, it keeps staff and customers more comfortable.

Microsoft partner ICONICS helps make this possible through its smart building solution. The Azure-based ICONICS solution acts as a hub for disparate building management systems that control heating, ventilation, lighting, and more. By applying advanced analytics, it helps to deliver energy savings.

4. Improving surveillance, security, and loss prevention

Keeping customers and staff safe while preventing product loss is incredibly important in the retail business. Unfortunately, most surveillance systems only capture incidents after they’ve happened. According to the IoT Signals Report, surveillance and security comprise 48% of retail use cases and loss prevention comprises 44% of use cases. 

IoT solutions can keep customers safer by sending alerts when suspicious behaviors, persons of interest, and potential safety hazards are detected. Cameras also help reduce product loss by watching for missed items at checkout and preventing unpurchased products from leaving the store.

Securing IoT solutions continues to get easier

Creating secure IoT solutions from silicon to cloud is continuing to get easier. For example, Starbucks used the Azure Sphere Guardian Module to help them securely connect existing coffee machines to the cloud. By IoT-enabling the machines, they’re able to monitor the types of beans used and water temperatures and proactively identify maintenance issues, among many other benefits.

For new IoT installations, Microsoft partner Innodisk, recently unveiled the first hybrid edge-to-cloud solid state drive (SSD) solution with native Microsoft Azure Sphere integration, providing an extra layer of security and remote monitoring.

According to George Chang, Sr. PM Manager at Innodisk, “We use Azure Sphere to connect to an Azure call service. So, our customers can deploy their machines worldwide and use our product, use our interface, for free and can manage their data….”

IoT in Action is coming to New York on January 13, 2020

To learn more about how IoT can help your retail business achieve its business goals, register for IoT in Action, coming to New York on January 13, 2020. This one-day, in-person event is the perfect opportunity to explore IoT solutions that are transforming the retail industry. You’ll have the chance to connect with Microsoft experts and partners and get your questions answered. You can also learn more by taking advantage of the IoT in Action Webinar Series.

Justin Slade

Justin Slade

Justin is part of the Microsoft IoT Channel Marketing team and is responsible for developing channel marketing programs – such as IoT in Action – that target Microsoft’s IoT partner ecosystem & build awareness of Microsoft IoT solutions.