How The Internet Of Things Will Reshape The Retail Experience

  • April 14, 2014 at 12:01 PM EDT
  • By Retail TouchPoints Team
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By Tom Bianculli, Senior Director of Emerging Business, Motorola Solutions


As the “Internet of things” evolves, it’s expected to have a profound impact on retail. Stores will become more intelligent. Brick-and-mortar retailers will become as connected as their online counterparts — everything in the store and everyone in it will be connected in real-time to create a personalized environment for shoppers, store associates and managers.

How will this be achieved? It all starts with capturing data in real time to gain insight into what is happening in and around the store environment. Sensors will pick up the movement of products, people and key assets automatically.


That real-time data will then be transformed into operational instructions and the insights derived will be mobilized to the right person, at the right time for the right action to be taken. We refer to this cycle as “capture, transform and mobilize” and are investing to render that into a solutions architecture that will effectively turn an enterprise into a platform that can be used to drive outcomes.

For example, by using sensors, video, RFID, precise location data and analytic technologies, store managers will have new levels of real-time inventory and asset visibility. They will be able to gain valuable insights from the movements and actions of associates, products and millions of shoppers.

 This solutions architecture will be built in three layers that will be enabled by the Internet of things:

  1. Capture: The “things” in the Internet of things will enable the detection and capture of various events, yielding detailed real-time visibility into associates, customers, inventory and the state of the store itself.
  2. Transform:This real-time data will be combined with legacy enterprise resource planning (ERP) data and then normalized and transformed into decisions driven by a retailer’s business logic.
  3. Mobilize: Decisions will be mobilized into actions across the enterprise, delivered to the hands of users via devices and the ubiquitous always-on connectivity that has defined the last decade. 

This architecture visibility across the enterprise will have a significant impact on the future of retail. For example, in Motorola Solutions’ 2013 Holiday Shopping Study, 81% of Gen Y (ages 18-34) and 73% of Gen X (ages 35-49) shoppers reported using their personal mobile device for shopping-related activities. With everything and everyone being connected, shoppers will have the ability to lookup real-time inventory, read product-related reviews and obtain help from knowledgeable staff and more.

In the survey mentioned above, 45% of shoppers also reported they would buy at least 50% more merchandise from retailers that provided better customer service, such as immediately offering to locate items not currently in stock and arrange free shipping to the customers home.

When equipped with mobile computers, available associates will be notified in real time to begin replenishment before an item is out of stock — this will be based on an automatic low-inventory detection system and triggered via a workforce management task system. Associates will also be empowered with the right information when they need it to meet customers’ needs, including personalized information about what interests various shoppers who opt in.

With everything in the store and everyone in it connected in real-time, brick-and-mortar stores will be able to create personalized environments to enhance the customer experience and ultimately help build a connection between consumers and their brands, leading to more revenues.


Tom Bianculli is Senior Director of Emerging Business at Motorola Solutions, a leading provider of mission-critical communication solutions and services for enterprise and government customers. He is responsible for the exploration and development of new business opportunities and product solutions. For more information, contact him at or visit



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