Throughout the past few years, there have been few industries that have seen as much transformation with the emergence of new technologies and the onset of the Fourth Industrial Revolution than the retail industry. The Internet of Things (IoT), digital signage, Big Data and artificial intelligence (AI) have all been shown to have much potential within a retail environment and are now being adopted by businesses and organisations around the world.
One of the most exciting technologies that has been adopted by the retail industry in recent years is edge computing, which looks to place processes such as collecting data and analytics much closer to the source of the data being collected and analysed.
By introducing edge computing infrastructure into brick-and-mortar stores, retailers are both taking advantage of the benefits being produced by cutting retail edge technologies and extending the lifespan of such stores in a time of fierce competition with online retailers such as Amazon.
Edge computing is currently being used in the retail sector to leverage new technologies such as smart and IoT devices as well as improve operational efficiency and gather insights into customer behaviors and trends through the utilization of data. In this article, we’ll look at five ways in which edge computing is being used to enhance and improve retail operations and services.
Five Ways Edge Computing Could Be Utilized Within the Retail Industry
While these solutions are not currently used by the majority worldwide, their use is slowly growing. Implementing such changes can be a drawn out and meticulous process that not all retailers are able to do quickly. However, as technologies evolve and mature, the costs associated with integrating the necessary infrastructure will likely decrease over time, allowing more businesses to begin to transition to such technologies.
Here is our list of five ways in which edge computing can be utilized within the retail industry.
1) Big Data & Analytics
Much of the Fourth industrial Revolution has been driven by the utilization of data, and this what makes edge computing and ideal candidate for those looking to take advantage of technologies such as the Internet of Things.
The entire methodology behind edge computing is aimed at bringing data processing closer to the source of the data, in order to bring what will soon be essential features such as real-time data processing and analytics to enterprises that adopt them.
By allowing data collection and analytics to be done at the source, a plethora of new services and revenue streams are then available to retailers, including many more ways in which to utilize other newer technological offerings such as artificial intelligence and innovative new digital signage technologies.
2) Promoting Operational Efficiency
The use of edge computing systems isn’t isolated within enhancing customer experiences or understanding trends, with many retailers relying upon their edge computing infrastructure to offer up insights into how best to leverage their technological resources so as to promote the highest level of operational efficiency.
There are now also artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies that, powered by edge computing, look to further enhance retailers’ ability to do this and similar activities through detailed analysis of customer and operational data.
Edge computing can also be used to better connect and synchronize in-store, online, and mobile services so as to both enhance the operational efficiency of all services offered, but also enable unique and bespoke customer experiences and open up revenue streams on new and future platforms.
3) Bespoke Customer Experiences
The continuing expansion of the Internet of Things and, within wider society, the increasing connectivity with the systems and technologies that enable our way of life, has enabled a vast number of new ways in which to connect and engage with existing and potential customers. By utilizing edge computing to gather and analyse data such as purchasing histories from customers that are either in-store or nearby, retailers can then tailor their advertising and marketing efforts to better match their customers’ tastes as well as recommend new products or offers based on their previous purchasing decisions.
Digital signage systems, again powered by edge computing, are also playing a large part in helping to create unique and bespoke customer experiences.
4) Understanding Consumer Trends
When it comes to better understanding consumer behaviors, edge computing is helping to enable retailers to gather insights into how shoppers are likely to behave, both in-store and online, through the data collected when they use either physical or online services.
This information can then be used to help create predicative models of future behavior while also considering what drives the decision-making process and, with help from either AI or automation technologies, possibly even reacting accordingly.
The latest fashion trends or celebrity-inspired looks can also be used to help predict customer behaviors and understand what drives purchasing trends. Being able to understand how consumers are likely to react to certain trends would enable retailers to further tailor their retail experiences to suit their personal tastes.
5) Security & Surveillance
The Internet of Things and edge computing infrastructure don’t just allow retailers to understand data and improve customer experiences and operational efficiency, either. New security and surveillance technologies are also able to take advantage of edge computing systems in order to provide improved security abilities and surveillance features to hardware such as cameras and motion sensors.
Multi-functional sensors designed to track motion are used bot only to determine the parts of the store that experience the most human traffic, but also for security purposes both for customers and employees. Edge computing can enable enhanced biometric security that could enable better staff access while also preventing unauthorized access from members of the public.