Consumer power has often been embodied in the phrase “the customer is always right”, however, in recent years, the influence of consumer trends has grown to have a significant impact on the fundamental processes organisations use to operate.

In order to appease customers and improve processes together with customer satisfaction, many retailers have focused on technology designed to enhance the shop floor experience. For example, the deployment of smart shelf technology, or wearable technology to speed up team communication and provide employees with access to information including stock levels. Whilst these technologies contribute to an organisation’s digitisation strategy and can provide an immediate demonstration of a business looking to gain competitive advantage and elevate customer experience, they can be costly to deploy in terms of investment and time. Furthermore, there is little to suggest that these technologies in isolation are driving ROI, or improving the overall value and experience for the end customer.

IoT technology may be an invisible solution as far as the customer is concerned, but crucially it has a fundamental impact on multiple corporate outcomes. Working inconspicuously in the background, IoT technology has the ability to deliver tangible value and ROI to the retailer by reducing an organisation’s energy consumption and improving food quality. For example, retailers can utilise this enhanced insight to control and automate the management and maintenance of the temperature and performance of their refrigeration estate, ensuring optimum safety and quality of the food products on offer. This subsequently allows retailers to deliver higher quality products at the right cost, extend shelf-life and increase value for money for the customer whilst heightening their experience of brand and store at the same time.

When it comes to the customer demand for high-quality products combined with a premium experience, visual demonstrations of new technology on the shop floor can only go so far. Instead, retailers should focus on innovative technology that can fully address business and ever-evolving consumer needs as a whole.

In this digital age, the customer has a louder voice than ever before to influence retailers into changing their ways for the better. Consumers are now directly targeting organisations in a bid to sway them towards reducing their environmental footprint and increasing their levels of sustainability – showing that customer considerations now go far beyond just price.

There have been numerous demonstrations of major retailers being positively pressured into changing the types of packaging or processes they use within the supply chain. For example, the Co-op has recently stated that it’s progressing with its own-brand plastic water bottles, to consist of 50% recycled plastic by the end of 2018. Furthermore, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Aldi, Lidl and Waitrose are among the 42 businesses so far supporting the Plastics Pact, a new voluntary pledge to cut plastic packaging with the ultimate aim being that by 2025 all plastic packaging can be reused, recycled or composted.

With successful IoT deployments, retailers have increased visibility and control over what is actually going on within their environment and within their supply chain, creating critical efficiencies which not only help to drive down the cost of products but also reduce expensive energy levels and significantly lower the rate of waste produced on a daily basis. Furthermore, businesses can leverage and contextualise the real-time data generated from machines and environments, whilst also incorporating customer feedback in order to drive informed decisions and measurable value.

By utilising a solution such as this, retailers can decrease food waste considerably, whilst also using demand-side response and tailored unit temperatures to reduce energy consumption – all of which work in favour of the consumer view. These savings can provide fundamental value release that can be reinvested into the business, and allow for a venture into new consumer-facing technologies. This particular strategy for reducing waste demonstrates the power customers have to drive forward a business technology revolution, encouraging key players to adopt digitisation to benefit their customer base, themselves, and the planet.