The Rise of the Internet of Things in Retail

More consumers expect a connected experience
Photograph: Shutterstock

BOSTON -- In today’s retail ecosystem, many shoppers are looking for an experience that satisfies both real-world and digital needs.

Retail management consulting firm BRP recently released The Future Store, a report that found that 19% of retailers currently offer internet of things capabilities and another 36% plan to within three years. Internet of things describes an environment in which the internet is connected to physical objects embedded with sensors that can then communicate.

Internet of things is focused not only on gathering data but also on the analysis and usage of the data. It could change the way people shop while both browsing shelves and at the point-of-sale.

“While e-commerce and mobile continue to grow and garner attention, the store remains a key component of the brand experience and the central point of the customer’s shopping journey. In fact, nearly half of retailers plan to increase their number of brick-and-mortar stores,” said Ken Morris, principal with Boston-based BRP. “However, the role of the store continues to change. The advent of the digital world offers consumers new ways and ‘places’ to research and shop. These digital possibilities, along with mobility, have modified consumer expectations and behaviors, and retailers must transform to succeed.”

The study also concludes that consumers are interested in relying on technology instead of human interaction if it makes the purchase process quicker and easier. For example, 55% are more likely to shop at a store with self-checkout vs. a store without and 57% will choose a store offering automated returns to avoid human interactions and speed the process.

Boston Retail Partners (BRP) is a retail management consulting firm delivering design and implementation of strategy, technology and process solutions.

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