Over the next decade, billions of Internet of Things (IoT) devices will flood the market and change many aspects of our lives forever.
These IoT devices are powered by wireless sensor technology, which enables us to create networks of interconnected objects that can exchange information independently. With wireless sensors, we can automate processes that would otherwise require human intervention.
One of the sectors that is already being transformed by the IoT and wireless sensors is the brick-and-mortar retail space. Retailers can use wireless sensor networks to create better in-store experiences, enhance security, and improve operational efficiency in many ways.
Already, there are many examples of how wireless sensors are being deployed in retail settings. Below are a few use cases that showcase the versatility of wireless sensor technology.
Improving the Onsite Experience
There are a variety of ways retailers can use wireless sensors to improve experiences for both customers and employees.
One particular class of sensor, the wireless pushbutton, has several potential applications inside retail locations. Wireless pushbuttons can be installed in bathrooms and configured to send messages to janitorial staff when pressed. With the simple click of a button, shoppers could alert when bathrooms need to be cleaned or equipment is out of order.
Pushbuttons could also be installed throughout large merchandise areas so customers could notify sales representatives when aisles need to be reorganized. Large department stores, such as Macy’s or Nordstrom Rack, could use pushbuttons to help maintain large areas that are challenging to manage throughout the day.
Wireless pushbuttons can also serve as low-cost silent alarms. Employees could easily notify security or law enforcement teams by pressing the sensor when they feel threatened by individual customers.
To help maintain comfortable internal environments, retailers can use wireless temperature sensors and humidity sensors to monitor air quality. For example, temperature sensors can be deployed in superstores that have refrigerated and non-refrigerated areas. Temperature sensors can alert if temperatures fall below a preset level, thus indicating a possible refrigeration failure. Or, they can be placed throughout electronics sections to monitor units that may overheat.
Wireless air sensors are effective for those who need to monitor humidity closely. Retailers with garden operations need to ensure the right conditions exist for all types of plants. Humidity sensors are also useful for preventing mold in areas with poor air circulation.
Those with major inventory and warehouse operations might use wireless temperature sensors to ensure that safe working conditions exist for employees. Temperature sensors can be installed and programmed to detect possible cooling system failures.
Bolstering Surveillance and Security
Wireless sensors are effective for supplementing security teams and onsite surveillance.
There are different types of wireless proximity sensors that can detect movement or opening and closing events at specific access points. A retailer might want to deploy proximity sensors where valuable merchandise is stored or where money is held. These sensors could alert security teams whenever movement is detected.
Wireless window sensors can be placed on external access points that burglars may use to enter buildings unnoticed. Wireless door sensors can be installed on cabinets, lockboxes, or rooms that need to be watched closely. Relying on automated wireless messaging allows retailers to reallocate security expenses and maintain secure premises in a low-cost manner.
On the supply chain side, wireless acceleration-based sensors can be attached to valuable assets and configured to send alerts when items are moving. A retailer might want acceleration-based sensors on high-cost items to ensure no products move outside of sales or expected transfers.
Protecting Retail Facilities and Operations
Wireless sensors help manage critical retail systems and operations.
For example, wireless water sensors are valuable for protecting against leaks, plumbing issues, and pump failures that could wreak havoc on the inside of retail stores. Water rope sensors can cover significant square footage and notify facility managers instantaneously of liquid spillages.
These alerts are especially valuable when issues arise in server rooms or in data centers where massive amounts of information are stored. Water leak sensors are also able to detect frozen water, which is helpful for identifying vulnerable pipes at risk of bursting.
Wireless vibration sensors are used to detect early signs of equipment failure. By installing vibration sensors on stationary equipment, retail facility managers can identify when systems may be malfunctioning before they are beyond repair. These low-cost sensors can result in thousands of dollars of savings and last for several years on a single battery charge.
Wireless Sensors Bringing Next-Gen Technology to Retail
Wireless sensor networks and IoT have helped usher in a new era of automation for businesses of all types. In the retail world, there are many applications for wireless sensors that support facility managers and operation leads daily.
Looking to the future, expect to see more and more wireless sensors enhance experiences at major retail locations and improve onsite efficiencies.
Have another example of wireless sensor use in the retail space? Give us a shout in the comments below.