Study Forecasts 350 Percent Rise in IoT in Retail by 2021

According to a Juniper Research study, this growth is being fueled by RFID and Bluetooth Low Energy beacons, which are becoming lower in cost and more prevalent in stores, and which can now be leveraged for better analytics, customer experience and supply chain improvements.
By Claire Swedberg

Since profit margins in retail are often thin, Sorrell says, the technology did not take off as expected. Now that tags are hovering around the $0.10 mark, he adds, it is much more viable to consider a strategy of 100 percent tagging, which allows for accurate oversight of the entire supply chain.

As that RFID-based data is being integrated into other systems, the study notes, retailers can transform the in-store experience by, for example, installing smart mirrors with RFID readers in clothing store changing booths to suggest similar or matching products.

However, the study finds, costs remain an obstacle or a challenge for many retailers, even for RFID. "This means that RFID and BLE will be restricted to players who are able to make investments that do not realize ROI until 12 to 18 months later," the report states.

Technology advances are also enabling passive RFID tags to be read at greater distances than earlier versions, the study finds, from an approximate 9-meter distance to tens of meters. That reduces the number of readers required. Increasingly, retailers are able to move beyond using handheld readers as well, for this same reason.

When it comes to beacon technology, the trend is still upward, as companies try to strike a balance between providing consumers with appropriate location-based content in push notifications, without intruding on their privacy. "As user interaction with beacons increases, either through Physical Web or Facebook beacons, the technology can become much more useful," Sorrell says. Facebook launched its own beacons in 2015, offering beacon hardware to businesses if they integrate those beacons with the Facebook mobile app. In this waym users would not need to download a store's app, but would simply use their existing Facebook app.

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