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The Internet of Things: Retailers Get Candid

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The Internet of Things has garnered a lot of attention in recent years – from both consumers and retailer prognosticators, alike. So much so, that a few years back we decided we’d survey retailers to assess their thoughts on the then-burgeoning technology.

What we found was somewhat predictable: lots of interest, but very little understanding of its real business value.

The problem, however, is that was five years ago.

Every year since 2015, RSR has benchmarked retailers’ attitudes about the business value of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies. What we’ve hoped to see is steady growth in understanding just how helpful the new generation of readers, sensors, and network-enabled devices can – and most definitely will - be. In fact, we even titled our 2018 report, Customers Use IoT: Why Can’t Retailers? In this year’s survey – coming out very soon - we reminded retailers to ignore any IoT-enabled consumer-grade products they may be selling, defining the Internet of Things as “all the Wi-Fi and network-enabled tools and devices that can be used to track and report the status of people, products and things.”

Even with this reminder, retailers in our forthcoming report remain somewhat locked in their opinions on what these tools can and will do for them. But retailers are also more candid than in prior years: in this study, one out of every two retailers admits they simply have no idea how IoT will impact their own operations in the next three years.

This is a real problem. While we appreciate the candor, what it reveals is that there’s a fundamental disconnect between how the retail industry sees the opportunities vs. how the technology world sees them. A walk on the NRF’s Big Show floor any January will find attendees inundated with presentations of IoT-enabled demonstrations that clearly demonstrate IoT-enabled solutions to very real-world problems retailers face every single day. Yet retailers tell us that this messaging isn’t sinking in – or worse: is not yet believable.

What then, can be done about this dilemma?

And that’s where our research comes in. We’ll be releasing the 2019 later this month, and if you’re at all interested in the progression of the Internet of Things – you’re gonna want to read it. We’ll send out an email as soon as it’s published.

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Articles & Opinions October 8, 2019
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