How retail is affected by COVID-19 and where is a place for IoT

While essential businesses have been fortunate enough to continue operating, the coronavirus pandemic has put extra strain on top of an already struggling retail industry, writes IoT for All. Even before the virus, the emergence of online shopping threatened the livelihood of business owners. Combined with the pandemic-level impact of the coronavirus, opportunities for business seem bleak. According to a report by the US Census Bureau, clothing stores, furniture stores, and F&B providers suffered the biggest losses while the food and beverage stores are seeing the biggest rise in monthly sales. For retailers to continue surviving, technology is no longer a luxury, it’s a need.

Live Occupancy Counting

overnments worldwide put social distancing policies. in place to control the number of customers in retail outlets, such as groceries, pharmacies, fuel stations and banks.The retail industry has suffered hard as a result of coronavirus. Here are three reasons why the enterprise needs to adopt IoT technology for the sake of survival.

In response, tech companies specialized in people counting are rising to the demand of businesses. Normally used to track visitor counts and measure store performances, these IoT devices have been repurposed to monitor the number of customers in-store at any given moment. The people counter technology is simple, yet effective. One sensor at each entrance and exit and the device will automatically collect data and inform store managers whenever there is a breach in the occupancy threshold.

Supply Chain Management

IoT is known for it’s revolutionizing the supply chain system. In more ways than others, IoT’s contribution to the retail and manufacturing industry is greater though it might be subtler.

Below are some key aspects of how and why retailers should pay attention to IoT especially during a pandemic. IoT devices attached to the storage container will allow businesses to accurately track the speed and location of the goods, and the time of its arrival. It allows them to integrate this data into their enterprise resource planning system to update their stocks’ availability. They can predict for their customers when the next batch of goods will be available without them leaving their homes and risking infection. This is particularly important for items in high demand and low quantity such as pharmacies selling medical masks, hand sanitizers, and gloves.

IoT sensors can monitor every parameter in the storage facility including temperature, humidity, light intensity, and more, which helps to optimize their storage situation to save costs and prevent spoilage. Business owners monitor the quality and prevent reshipments for deliveries. This is particularly important for perishable goods such as raw meats, fish, and vegetables.

Automated inventory management technology such as smart shelves coupled with RFID tags can provide retail managements real-time insight into the stock level for SKU, which can save labor costs by avoiding unnecessary inventory checking and prevent any unforeseen stockout particularly during a pandemic lockdown.

Contactless Payment

Banknotes and coins are notorious for being one of the dirtiest items anyone can hold. Research has found that there are convenient ways to pass viruses and bacterias such as E. coli and salmonella. Speaking of diseases, the COVID-19 virus happens to also survive on surfaces from between a few hours to several days. All it takes for an infected carrier to cough or sneeze around a banknote, and you’ve unknowingly gotten yourself a contaminated piece of paper.

Since the ’90s, contactless payment has been popularized in gas stations, public transports, and restaurants. At this stage, the push for contactless payment is more necessary than ever. The ability to make payments while minimizing contact will benefit consumers concerned about health and safety. For businesses, it’ll remove friction during a transaction, increase customer satisfaction, and improve transaction security with fewer fraud losses.

The retail industry will always play a vital role in the economy. While the coronavirus has severely impacted its status, the industry will need to continue innovating in order to survive. As for now, the next step forward is the adoption of IoT in different aspects of business, whether that is in the customer-side, or the management-side. Regardless, the incorporation of IoT is no longer an option, but rather a necessity.

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