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Can IoT Create a Seamless Supply Chain for Retail?

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By Published On: April 14, 20200 Comments

The Internet of Things (IoT) transfers data over a network, thus reducing human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. How can this impact the future of e-commerce, namely supply chain?

Living in uncertain times is an understatement currently – for those in retail, it can be hard to make sense of what’s going on. One thing is for sure, though, and that is the boom of digital commerce and its impact on the world.

According to a study from Adobe, searches for hand sanitiser, gloves, masks and antibacterial sprays rose by 817 percent in the United States. In Australia, these searches peaked throughout March and the beginning of April, which has since tapered off.

It’s not just gloves, hand sanitisers, masks and antibacterial sprays that are peaking during this time – it’s other essential goods. Online shopping has increased over the last few weeks as stores close due to the outbreak, resulting in a boom online.

“Small purchases of under $50 continued to grow above the average over the past two weeks as consumers turned to online in increasing numbers for essentials, as well as small orders of food delivery and a rise in monthly subscription services,” said Grant Arnott, the Managing Director of Power Retail in Let’s Regrow Town Hall information session in early April. “At the other end, large purchases (over $250) declined significantly overall compared with the benchmark, but saw a rise last week as shopping for working from home enhancements took off.”

As such, with an increase in online spending, there will be an added increase in supply chain and logistics. However, with social distancing playing a massive role in the downfall of physical stores and warehouse management, how can retailer help ease this upcoming strain?

IoT aims to keep tabs on the shipping process, conditions and hereabouts, thanks to its enabled sensors.

As millions of Australians stay indoors during the crisis, home deliveries are exponentially increasing in popularity. According to the Power Retail benchmarking data, click and collect deliveries have dropped significantly. In contrast, as of early April, 81 percent of shipments were sent to home versus the benchmark of 68 percent.

“Delivery destinations for parcels switched decisively from work, post office and click & collect to home,” said Arnott.

Retailers can utilise IoT to ensure the tracking and whereabouts of the shipment process, as it makes its way to the customer’s home. Not only does this ensure reliability from the retailer’s perspective, but it can also reflect positively for the consumer end too.

Furthermore, IoT can help retailers underpin issues within warehouses, track stock and drive efficiencies as staff spend time at home. “Data collected by IoT devices can also empower retailers to optimise shipment routes for faster delivery, improving operations and, again, bolstering the customer experience,” said Ajay Rane, a spokesperson for Supply Chain Brain.

For retailers that sell perishable goods, such as food, pharmaceuticals, etc., IoT may be an essential step in targeting weak spots within the shipment process and identify any issues with the supply chain. As an example, if an online pharmacy or beauty company is importing goods from overseas and there has been no update on its whereabouts for some time, there may be serious implications in the long run. With IoT, these goods can be tracked and monitored, whether it be along the delivery process or from the supplier to the distributor and customer.

The world is now more connected than ever, despite borders being temporarily shut. As a result, staying connected with the rest of the globe is an essential step to maintaining a healthy and sustainable business practice in the future. IoT can help connect with global devices if they have access to an 0G network.

What is 0G network? It’s a wireless network designed to send or receive small messages between IoT devices, that is low-cost and low-power. According to Everything RF, the 0Gnetwork ‘allows IoT devices to connect with its network using the internet and transmit small amounts of data over long ranges’. Furthermore, this network is also immune to Distributed Denial of Service attacks.

Having this access allows retailers greater visibility both up and down the supply chain. As the battery life lasts a lot longer than regular networking, it’s easier to track for cross-border supply.

It’s unsure when we will reach the other side, so it’s now the best time to ensure that your business’ supply chain is the best it can be.

Power Retail is dedicated to providing critical and live e-commerce retailer benchmarking data and shopper insights for the online retail industry. Click here to find out more about Power Retail E-Commerce Intelligence or here to sign-up for the free weekly Pulse Newsletter for more essential online retail content.

About the Author: Ally Feiam

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