Black Friday – Cyber Monday Special | IoT Powered Connected Supply Chain
- The shopping period between Black Friday and Christmas combines for 30% of the annual retail revenue.
- Reports estimate that consumers spent over 3.45 billion dollars on the Cyber Monday of 2016.
- The challenges faced by retailers during this period are complex and it is the need of the hour for retailers to adapt The Internet of Things methodologies.
- IoT enabled connected supply chain will revolutionize, ‘The Retail Industry.’
Black Friday – Cyber Monday Special | IoT Powered Connected Supply Chain
Thanksgiving Black Friday and Cyber Monday are always found to be great opportunities for shoppers to purchase products that they have been long-waiting to buy. It is estimated that sale during the period of Black Friday to Christmas accounts for over 30% of year’s total sale. For years now, the Black Friday has been the best opportunity for retailers to sell-off their excess inventory and get ready to bring in new stock for the Christmas festivities. This calls for a huge opportunity for shoppers that are waiting for things to buy at affordable or heavily discounted prices. In last decade or so, the same trend has also shifted for online shoppers who wait for Cyber Monday. Imaginably, the order volumes are massive. Reports estimate that consumers spent over 3.45 billion dollars on the Cyber Monday of 2016. This year will certainly set new records for online shopping.
While this information may put a big smile on the faces of ‘The retail industry,’ the period of the Black Friday – Cyber Monday combine, presents huge supply chain challenges for retailers. Black Friday is more of in-store purchases and Cyber Monday is an online shopping fiesta. In the store, seller communities face a huge challenge for managing long queues, inventory, customer expectations, deals, cash flow and delivery logistics. There have been times when retailers have had to take assistance from police authorities due to furious mobs running arson at retail stores.
In case of Cyber Monday, the people management chaos is replaced by site crashing due to unmanageable online traffic. Challenges in delivering Cyber Monday promises, order chaos, inventory mismanagement etc. are all commonplace. The world of client experience has changed due to technological integration in retail systems. Today’s enterprise offers their clientele with several avenues to make them feel special. A day like Black Friday or Cyber Monday drives huge customer expectations and faltering with such expectations can be a big blow for any retailer. This is where retailers look for newer and better technologies to bring efficiency into their operations and improve customer delight. The Internet of Things is a promising technological platform that certainly has the potential to bring unprecedented transparency, traceability, and operational efficiencies into retail operations.
IoT drives The Retail Renaissance
A brief history of the retail industry is self-explanatory to the fact that the end the result of this industry emerges from a complex process originating out of silos, the silos themselves being complex processes internally. The manual or semi-automated efforts put in by several stakeholders and systems somehow manage to get the desired product delivered to the customer. The process is a drag and devoid crucial stakeholders to invest time and energy into decisions that are critical for getting new business, sustaining existing business and most importantly, driving consumer success. The controlled chaos that erupts on the end of both the buyer and the seller is legendary and was reluctantly acceptable until the recent past. But not anymore! Stiff competition dictates the retail industry to take bold steps and embrace emerging technologies to safeguard and expand their existing enterprise. The Internet of Things in this context is the technological answer to resolve the existing retail impasse. A brief look at IoT applications to streamline ‘The Retail Every day.’
IoT in Store: With wi-fi enabled stores, RFID Tagged products, CCTV cameras monitoring customer movement, and checkouts digitized, the retail store can completely monitor customer behavior and goods movement. The connected store can bring unit level and person level traceability on how shoppers are moving from aisle to aisle, products they are interested in, their buying behavior, and stock movement. This connected store can help retailers to provide user-specific deals, plan dynamic pricing, and streamline operations. The shopper-centric goods movement data can help retailers streamline overall operations by arranging for appropriate stock and manpower. This is equally or rather more effective possibly for online buyers where things can be driven algorithmically and instantly.
IoT and Retail Operations: Retail giants have huge warehouses where they usually stockpile their inventory. Considering the size of the building it becomes an ardent task for floor force to physically locate a product and bring it back for pre-delivery, in time. IoT facilitates a connected warehouse, wherein shelf sensors and an IoT platform have the capability to signal an autonomous robotic cart to collect the good and bring it back to the shipping bay saving plenty of manual labor and adding transparency in the operations part.
The same sensors also signal a re-order when the inventory reaches a certain level. This avoids ‘goods being out of the stock scenario,’which is currently one of the biggest problems that every retailer faces. RFID tags and sensors help inventory accounting due to which stocking improves, hence increasing profits. This helps retailers take customer-centric decisions on the go, spiking the entire level of customer experience.
Having this approach has a huge advantage in the future. The amount of customer data that gets generated out of this process is extremely valuable. Eventually, retail enterprises will get a gist of the nature of products that their consumers are looking for but are not available in the market at this point in time. Retailers would then be able to approach manufacturers with a product idea which is completely unique and only exclusive to this retailer, providing a competitive edge, disrupt the market, and strengthen customer loyalty.
Top retailers globally are seriously looking at The Internet of Things to optimize their operations and on-floor processes. As an example, Walmart has now filed a patent to try and incorporate a self-driving cart into their floor operations. Over 80% of retailers have adopted and have started implementing some sort of IoT solution.
IoT and logistics: The second biggest obstacle that retailers face is the logistics pandemonium. IoT implementation streamlines the logistics traceability to a whole new level. Retailers are now able to capture the minutest details (SKU level) pertaining to the whereabouts of delivered goods. RFID and IoT based connected warehouses provide an incredible level of accurate measurement of demand and goods location and movement. The atmosphere sensitive products’ like in pharma or perishable items can be monitored constantly in the warehouse and in transit for factors such as temperature, humidity, etc. In case of damaged goods, an audit trail is facilitated that provides information about the time and location of where the goods were damaged and strengthen accountability. Most importantly, IoT integrates logistics with the retail warehouse which is the key.
So, this means…
Times like Black Friday or Cyber Monday are huge eye-openers pertaining to how bad the retail service levels can stoop. IoT helps bring end-to-end real-time visibility and transparency into operations. At the spur when an order is placed, the entire value chain can arrange for their individual operations with this connected supply chain. Tracking and traceability of unit level order and overall inventory becomes seamless.
Most importantly, manufacturers of the goods over a period of time will have alot more data to understand the mass appeal and will in-turn help them design client-centric products. The end goal for retailers to achieve here is delivering a stellar customer experience in order to increase brand value, buy customer loyalty and most importantly thrive profits.