Interviews, insight & analysis on Ecommerce

How retailers can deliver ‘everything now’ with the IoT

by Paul Bullock, Group Head of MVNO, Wireless Logic

Digitisation has changed the way we work and live our lives and nowhere has change been more
apparent than in retail. Consumers have become accustomed to a culture of ‘everything now’,
ordering goods and services quickly and conveniently and expecting deliveries to be the same.
Retailers are striving to deliver digital services that meet these expectations, so they must avoid
service dropouts which can result in lost orders and revenue, potentially even brand damage.

Recent research conducted with UK respondents aged 16 to 54 years set out to examine attitudes
towards point-of-sale (POS) cashless payments, vending machine purchases and order deliveries. Its
findings are illuminating for retailers competing to meet consumer expectations in the digital age.
The survey shows us:

Cash isn’t king

Less than ten per cent of survey respondents said cash is the payment method they use most often.
This reflects a growing trend towards cashless payments, one in evidence before the COVID-19
pandemic and accelerated by it.

Retailers know the importance of being able to take cashless payments to lock-in sales, but also to
contribute to a positive brand perception. Over a quarter (28 per cent) of in-store shoppers surveyed
said they would find another retailer or try another time if they couldn’t pay using their preferred
method, while 21 per cent would blame the retailer if a card machine wasn’t working.

Security is important too. Over half of surveyed respondents are concerned about the security of
payment/personal details and 37 per cent believe it is up to the retailer to ensure this.

Vending is an opportunity

A notable 46 per cent of survey respondents agree there should be more options to purchase goods
through vending machines. Reasons for this included convenience (cited by 53 per cent) and
accessible locations (45 per cent).

This presents an unattended retail opportunity to sell to customers where they are – in train
stations, airports and other locations. Here too, there is a clear need to enable cashless purchases –
the AVA, representing the vending machine sector, has previously revealed more than double the
purchase value of cashless payments during the pandemic period.

Customers want traceable, sustainable deliveries

An overwhelming 80 per cent of survey respondents consider delivery tracking information
important. Meanwhile, half of respondents would be wary of purchasing from a company in the
future if the delivery experience was poor, such as no tracking information, goods left in an
unsuitable place or missed delivery times.

Interestingly, over half (52 per cent) of those surveyed said they would pay more for an item if
delivery options were more sustainable, rising to 61 per cent among the 16–34-year-olds.
One way around the risk of parcels being left unsecured is to use parcel lockers and 12 per cent of
respondents had done so in the three months preceding the survey.
Secure lockers rely on always-on connectivity to exchange data on deliveries and collections and to
verify customer details. Similarly, deliveries depend on exchanging up-to-date information between
delivery companies and retailers. Without this, customers can be left chasing details and may take
their business elsewhere.

The role of the IoT in delivering ‘everything now’

All of the retail interactions explored above depend on reliable, secure connectivity and this is made
possible through the internet of things (IoT).

The IoT connects ‘things’ to the internet – machines, smart chips, sensors, management systems and
more. In retail, it connects many devices including handheld scanners for in-store stock
management, electronic POS (ePOS) payment terminals, and vending machines for stock
management, maintenance and cashless payments.

To compete in a society where consumers expect rapid, secure cashless payments and convenient,
traceable deliveries retailers depend on reliable and resilient IoT connectivity for their digitised
services.

Retailers must mitigate the risk of connections going down to avoid potential revenue loss and
negative brand perception. One way of doing this is by connecting services through ultra-high
availability SIMs, which continually monitor networks, automatically switching if one fails. Retailers
should also look for enhanced security to protect customer data through, for example, virtual private
network (VPN) infrastructure for connected IoT devices.

Solution providers working with businesses that manage and process data securely help to ensure
the reputation of a retailer. Accreditations such as ISO27001 are a good barometer for determining
their reliability.

Retailers compete in an ‘everything now’ society. Consumers expect services at the click of a button,
and convenient deliveries with status updates. From POS to unattended retail to last mile delivery,
secure and resilient IoT connectivity can be the difference between meeting or failing to meet
customers’ expectations of digital services.

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