And improve the customer experience.

Gartner has identified the top strategic technology trends that impacted retailers in 2016. Zebra Technologies has taken a closer look at how these trends will have an impact on retailers in 2017 and their ability to gain greater visibility and improve the customer experience, from the distribution centre to front of store.

Device Mesh:  Brings together traditional desktop-centred computing, mobile computing, the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing in a common, connected framework of endpoints and supporting services. Today’s customer want to buy from anywhere, anytime, anyhow – which makes inventory visibility a must. In 2017 merchandising tracking will be easier than ever with an increased digital mesh of RFID-tagging and location devices. Managers will have greater control over stock management and sales staff can improve sales conversion and fulfilment, according to Zebra Retail Solutions.

Use-Case Scenario: A customer looks online to find a favourite store that stocks the desired product, visits the store, gets a demo but cannot fit the item into the car. Using a mobile device, the sales assistant locates the item in inventory, makes the purchase on the sales floor and schedules the item for home delivery later the same day.

Information of Everything: Massive amounts of data from traditional systems, cloud sources and the IoT create an overload that must be addressed by more advanced analytics integrated into the fabric of applications, business processes and routine user activities. More retailers will invest in micro-location technology for the sales floor. Retailers can gain a real-time breakdown of the store, plus accumulate data that can be used to track trends over time. The trends allow managers to make better decision by providing invaluable information, such as a better understanding of staff location, productivity and degree of customer engagement. These insights directly drive sales through hyper-personalised marketing profiles and offers.

Use-Case Scenario: A shopper spends 30 minutes looking at dishwashers in a home improvements store but does not make a purchase. Using Bluetooth beacons, wireless access points and various cloud software, the customer is identified. Later the customer receives an email with a 10% discount on a dishwasher, prompting a purchase.

IoT, Architecture and Platforms:  Enterprise architects must consider security, privacy, cost, ease of access, agility and performance to determine the best architecture for their IoT initiatives. At the heart of all future technology is a strong infrastructure to support it. With increased mobilisation and multiple endpoints coming online, challenges with monitoring, security and deployment increase. IT leaders will need to adhere to evolving wireless standards, secure their networks effectively and be able to plan ahead for increased IoT growth in the future.

Use-Case Scenario: A store’s wireless infrastructure was originally built for accommodating corporate devices and providing guest access. Now the retailer wants to employ micro-location technology throughout the store. The IT director must upgrade the wireless LAN to meet the new business requirement while still providing a reliable ecosystem for customers to leverage their mobile technology.