Today’s culture of instant gratification has changed consumer expectations when it comes to buying products and receiving deliveries.
Shoppers expect the products they desire to be always available and delivered quickly. According to one survey, 99% of U.S. consumers say fast delivery is extremely important to them when making a purchase, and 74% would shop with a store again if they received an item in one day.
These expectations can be difficult to meet, especially during busy times of the year. Each person in the supply chain needs to be on their A-game to accomplish quick, reliable delivery. Fortunately, internet of things (IoT) devices can help keep tabs on goods, from store shelves to front steps, to make sure that products are readily available to consumers.
Here’s how IoT devices can help to increase insight and maximize efficiencies across the supply chain this holiday season, from warehouse to final destination.
To stay competitive, retailers need to meet customer demand for efficient, reliable delivery of top products. Ahead of the holiday rush, stores need to stock up on inventory, both on shelves and in storage. This, of course, is easier said than done.
IoT sensors can provide valuable insight into both stores and warehouses. They can signal when items need to be reordered and restocked, and prevent overstocking on the wrong stocking stuffers. Retailers can also use the data to determine which items are moving quickest, to build an inventory of products that consumers are actually going to buy.
The application of IoT technology is already in play in stores like Amazon Go. When shoppers remove items from the shelf, a weight sensor determines what was taken, charges the customer, and alerts the store to what’s popular.
Tracking and Conditions Monitoring
Keeping track of a container once it leaves the warehouse, and ensuring that it’s being handled properly throughout its journey, can be a huge challenge for retailers. IoT devices generate valuable data such as location, temperature, humidity, shock and tilt. The information can help to identify where a shipment can go wrong, as well as give sellers a chance to correct the situation by ordering new stock, thereby avoiding customer grievances.
IoT technology is already being used by companies around the world to gain an accurate view of what happens during shipment. Retailers can avail themselves of technology similar to that deployed by companies such as Michelin and Groupe PSA. For example, Michelin deploys sensors to obtain real-time information from vehicles in transit, to control truck conditions and ensure the safety of its drivers and products. Groupe PSA uses a track-and-trace solution to monitor crate locations and identify the root causes of any issues along the shipping route.
Getting items to their end location in prime condition is only half the battle; they also have to be delivered on time. With many cities suffering from severe traffic congestion, achieving that goal can be a struggle.
The placement of IoT sensors in key fixtures around cities, such as on traffic lights, allows drivers to see when streets are busiest. The information allows them to avoid high traffic volumes and save precious time. They can also optimize routing and cut down on trips by taking into account customers who receive multiple packages in a day, and as well as those who might be better served through a central pickup location.
The holidays don’t have to be a burden on retailers and customers. By implementing IoT across multiple different points in the supply chain, suppliers, retailers and warehouse staff can gain access to valuable data that will help them make this season a smooth one.
Ajay Rane is vice president of global business development for Sigfox.
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