My fantastic colleagues on our retail team published The Future Of The Digital Store. This report outlines how retailers must use a “6E” strategy — engage, emulate, expand, empower, execute, and enable — to build purpose-designed physical locations that are structured to deliver meaningful improvements to customer experience (CX), achieve operational excellence, and drive specific business outcomes. Part of that journey is IoT. But where do you get started? IoT can be somewhat daunting for companies as they consider the data implications, plus there are so many interesting use cases: enabling cashierless payments, optimizing store environments, enhancing mobile applications, or powering computer vision to transform operations and engage with customers, etc. This month, I wrote a report to help retailers take those first steps toward IoT, Jump-Start Your Retail IoT Journey.

These are some of my favorite tips from the report:

  • Get the right stakeholders in the room. Successful IoT retail initiatives begin with bridging the IT/OT divide. Gather insight from retail operations stakeholders and IT networking professionals to identify key strategic priorities (e.g., enhancing sustainability or integrating physical and online retail environments), challenges that are impacting customer experience, or opportunities to enhance critical operational processes.
  • Explore IoT-enabled omnichannel solutions. Many customers use a variety of digital and in-store touchpoints as they move along the purchase process. This channel diversity creates challenges as retailers implement omnichannel strategies to unify sales and marketing across in-person stores, web browsers, and mobile applications. IoT solutions can enhance omnichannel shopping experiences by providing consumers and store associates with easy access to real-time stock availability in stores.
  • Tackle quick-hit IoT use cases that provide your firm with high value. Start with easy wins to help prove future business cases and gain support from key stakeholders. Are you focused on addressing weaknesses in your supply chain? Is ensuring sustainable operations a priority? Do you need to improve shelf inventory tracking? Prioritize IoT use cases based on the value provided to your firm.
  • Be cautious when considering emerging technologies. Firms often deploy IoT solutions along with emerging technologies (e.g., augmented reality, virtual reality, or 5G). Retailers must intensely scrutinize these emerging technologies to avoid wasting capital and labor resources on headline-grabbing initiatives that do not optimize business outcomes. Build your business case for emerging tech on realistic benefits, costs, and ROI projections.

Next Steps

To help you navigate your IoT journey, here are a few steps that you can take:

  1. If you are a Forrester client and want to learn more about this topic, please schedule a guidance session with Michele Pelino, principal analyst.
  2. Explore the links to related research included below.
  3. Not a Forrester client? Please contact the Forrester account team.

Here’s a few more of my latest reports:

Jump-Start Your Retail IoT Journey
Practical Guide To Bridging The IT/OT Divide
Internet-Of-Things Heat Maps For Operational Excellence In 2023