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For the most part, 2020 has been different in just about every way that one could imagine.  So, why would Black Friday be any different? Many jurisdictions are putting restrictions on retail shopping, and many more will likely do so in the coming weeks.

However, let’s imagine a less depressing time, way back in 2019. After devouring too much turkey, millions got into their car at ridiculous hours to get in line for the best deals that Black Friday could offer. To make the experience better (and get your over-fed butt off the couch), retailers have been using many IoT-based solutions to gain an edge. This Technology will undoubtedly be used in 2021; to enhance the customer experience and increase automation and limit contact/face-to-face interaction.

 

Google searches + GPS ads

 

You are sitting comfortably on your bed when you hear a loud groan from the kitchen. 

It appears that your trusty fridge has finally broken down, this time for good. So, you go to your favourite search page (i.e. Google) and start to look up appliances at the local Best Buy. Your plan is to go check them out in person the next day.

Upon arriving in the parking lot, you get a text message from Best Buy, offering you a great discount code on that same device you were looking at last night. 

Is this magic? No, not magic. Is it creepy? Yeah, perhaps a little. Google gathered two critical pieces of information that allowed them to make this connection; they knew what web page you were on. They have the GPS location of both your phone and all of the Best Buy locations.

 

Custom billboards

 

This one I noticed last Black Friday while waiting patiently for my wife to browse every store in the mall. 

There is a large LED display that shows ads regularly. This is not revolutionary. However, it changed the ad based on the person who walked by was kind of cool.

The billboard must have been using a camera combined with Artificial Intelligence to determine different characteristics of the person walking by. It would then display an ad that it must have figured would appeal most to that person. Again, kind of creepy but very useful.

 

Inventory based on traffic

 

I guess older dudes like myself are predictable, which is the basis for this next point. I was in a retail store when I overheard one staff member tell another one to get a bunch of specific inventory (such as colours and sizes of a particular shirt). 

Suddenly, the area was overrun with middle-aged white dudes, many of which headed right towards the shirts that were just re-stocked.

Like the custom billboards, the retailer must have been using a solution that took the information about the customers coming in and made decisions based on previous actions. Keeping inventory on the shelf allows customers to get what they want quickly, which is a significant advantage over online shopping.

 

Smart displays

 

I have told this story before, so I will minimize it here. As a really bad Do-it-yourself guy, I struggle to do a lot of things around the house. However, one thing that I have done is to replace a faucet. The bigger problem for me was finding the correct one. Thanks to a smart Delta display at Home Depot, I quickly found the one that met my needs in seconds.

As your retail staff looks to minimize its contact with customers, smart displays help customers find valuable information about possible complex purchases. 

It also helps at times when your team is overloaded with customers.

 

Faster checkout/failover

 

Ok, you have been targeted for ads, had inventory replenished before you got there and had all of your questions answered by a smart display; now, it is time to pay. Store like Apple has been moving the cash register to the floor by equipping their staff with portable devices to check out customers. However, even those solutions fail if the primary Internet access to the store fails.

Smart retailers have been using cellular gateways to back up their primary Internet connection for a while. In the event of an outage, the solution kicks in automatically to allow your team to continue to work. It is not just for the big box stores- solutions are available for retailers of all sizes.