As if by an invisible hand

As if by an invisible hand

For some it instills fear, for others it evokes excitement – when things start communicating with each other. But whatever your opinion is, one thing is for sure: the "Internet of Things" is coming and will also have an impact on shopping and making payments. And it will bring with it a whole host of benefits.

Stress-free weekly shopping
Take a trip with us into the future: you walk into the supermarket, and straight away discounts that might interest you are activated on your smartphone. You fill up your shopping cart as normal; all products are entered automatically and the total amount is displayed in real time on your smartphone, less any discounts and vouchers stored under your profile. Once you've finished your shopping, you simply push your shopping cart out of the supermarket to your car; your purchases are tallied up and charged automatically when you pass through the exit, and your loyalty points are immediately credited to your account for your next shopping trip. When you drive away, the parking fee is debited automatically, since your car logs on and logs off to the parking meter of its own accord.

The challenges
A few challenges need to be overcome before our future scenario becomes reality:

  • All the systems involved such as payment, CRM or warehouse systems must be aligned with the new conditions in an intelligent – or more intelligent – manner.
  • Systems must communicate with one another effectively – and not only in a closed environment: two systems that don't know each other, for example, a car and a parking meter, must also be able to understand each other spontaneously. Corresponding standards are needed for this.
  • Products must be able to be entered contactlessly and electronically. Even if such tags already exist in the form of RFID chips and are not expensive, the system is currently not yet viable for very inexpensive products.

The benefits
Automated interaction between various systems will increase efficiency and reduce costs:

  • Cash registers in the traditional sense will no longer be required due to automatic check-outs or payment procedures. This will save space and resources.
  • A self-directed warehouse management system will be able to use the tags on the products to identify which product is located where and how many are available and, accordingly, to place repeat orders, suggest discounts for slow sellers or optimize inventory management of its own accord.
  • The workforce can be fine-tuned and optimized depending on the expected volume.
  • Customer support can be targeted more accurately to specific needs thanks to extensive background information. 

Aside from the efficiency gain, the "Internet of Things" promises one thing above all: to make our lives a little simpler – and to offer your customers a wonderfully relaxing shopping experience.