Apr 26 2013

The “Internet of Everything” Will Take the Retail Experience Beyond Store Walls

When communication is constant and flowing, opportunities for extended engagement manifest.

Have you ever dreamed of a world in which everything, literally everything, had hooks to the Internet? Cisco Systems has, and it calls this vision of the future the “Internet of Everything.”

In an interview with CITEworld, Padmasree Warrior, Cisco’s chief technology and strategy officer, articulated the company’s idea in greater detail, calling it the third era of the Internet.

“This next decade will be about the digitization of society," she said. "It's not going to replace [the] other two, it's an additive thing. The internet of things is about sensor networks, machines communicating with other machines, and lots of data being created by this usage.”

For retailers, the Internet of Everything means thinking of the customer experience beyond the store.

On the Cisco Blog, Rachael McBrearty, chief creative and group leader of the Experience and IT Transformation Practice in the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group, outlines how the Internet of Everything can enable innovation in retail.

One thing retailers should focus on is using technology to make emotional connections both presale and postsale. McBrearty offers these pointers to retailers:

Transform the process of building awareness and encouraging purchases, by bringing together data from various sources, including sensors that pick up signals to help anticipate customer needs. Target these customers in real time based on history, location, and activity.

  • Apps move from performing cross-brand product comparisons to enabling customers to determine where to find items based on criteria they set, including best price, product ratings, and the most convenient retail location to shop (automatically taking traffic and wait times into consideration).

  • Connected vending machines, digital signage, and other surfaces will recognize customers and deliver customized content at the point of need.

  • Items will be ordered on — and delivered to — a customer’s mobile phone, wherever it is located.

Post-sale, connect with the personal side of customers’ lives to help them achieve their goals. This will enable you to add post-sale value to create new revenue streams and drive new insights for innovation. Look for ways to be proactive, anticipate and prevent issues before they happen, or make suggestions that will improve a customer’s life.

  • Mobile devices or sensors react to the environment and are set to receive personalized messages placed by you or your customers’ social circles.

  • Sensors on clothing monitor customers’ health, enabling them to analyze and collect information about themselves, optimize their personal behaviors, and alert caregivers when there is an issue.

  • Connected cars move beyond monitoring an automobile’s performance to collecting data about customers’ driving habits, providing instant insurance quotes, and communicating with things along a route.

In hip-hop, they say that “the streets is watching.” But in the future, when everything from fire hydrants to lightbulbs have IP addresses, the world will be watching.

While some might balk at the increased level of data tracking, the truth is, more people seem willing to trade privacy for personalization. More specifically, millennials care less about privacy than previous generations.

A study conducted by Bovitz, Inc., and the University of Southern California Annenberg Center for the Digital Future, indicated that, as long as they got something in return, 51 percent of millennials were willing to share personal information with businesses, Forbes reports.

There’s even demand for high-end technology and connected devices in the bathroom. So let the machines talk. As long as it makes our experiences richer and more worthwhile, we’ll take it.


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