How Smart Are Shelves?

Niall Behan
December 19, 2018
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The world is changing at a rapid speed, and with adaptations such as Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality coming into our lives, more practical developments can be forgotten about (although that doesn’t mean they aren’t just as revolutionary! ). Smart shelves, utilized in various industries are an example of this. Functional, quite ordinary yet equipped with cutting edge systems. In the retail and consumer world, they are most definitely here to stay and a part of the future.

With an ever increasing velocity, smart shelf use within stores around the world is on the rise. As of 2015 almost 13% of US retailers were utilizing Electronic Shelf Labels (ESL’s) as well as a further 3% adopting smart shelf sensors (Out-of-stock tracking, beacon activated), with the ESL market expected to grow to 16% by 2024.

This trend isn’t expected to slow down, especially as 55% of businesses are tailoring their future digital transformation towards evolving consumer behaviours and preferences. The evolution of the shopping environment has brought lightning quick deliveries, shopping on the go, more personalised experiences and easy returns policies.

These days consumers simply don’t accept seeing empty shelves in stores. If you want consistent success you’ll need to have tip top stock management! Smart shelving is the best way forward.  

Are they worth it?

There are ever increasing opportunities and benefits by adding some intelligence to your brick-and-mortar operation. Some of the biggest problems in retail are stock wastages, pricing errors and accurate inventory systems. It has been seen that only 50% of inventory systems are accurate.

Smart shelves digitally keep track of all inventory in stores and can tell when products are running low, so retailers don’t have to worry. They inform warehouse workers about stock outages and keep refilling time to a minimum by automatically connecting to reordering streams. They can even predict when stock is deplenishing at a faster than average pace so stores can act fast. This revolutionises and enables the traditional retailer to make up ground on the online world.

With the majority of consumers (70%) using mobile phones on their path to purchase, smart shelves can also open the door for more personalised and dynamic pricing, more information on products, suggested alternatives to out-of-stock items as well as introducing endless aisle capabilities.

With smart shelves, businesses are instantly enabled  to make much more informed decisions about their stores and inventory. Retailers can store large amounts of fast moving products and less of the slower selling items. This ensures prices are updated instantly, reducing overall waste and improving the overall overall customer data collected.

Show me the money

These benefits are backed up by the numbers. A retailer can expect to see $15M of benefits over 10 years by utilizing smart shelving. A further $1M is granted to manufacturers as well as a 5% reduction in overall stock issues throughout the process.

Companies like PowerShelf and SmartShelf are leading the market in this industry, although with so much growth expected in the next decade, it’s only a matter of time before more competitors flood in.

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