By Blaine Kelton, a blogger and freelance writer from Beverly Hills
Blaine Kelton, a blogger and freelance writer from Beverly Hills
When we think about how technology is changing major industries, a lot of the focus tends to be on Internet innovation. In many cases, online stores are replacing retail locations, e-commerce is becoming commerce, and there are countless changes and adjustments related to these shifts. However, we've also discovered that despite these changes, retail as a whole isn't going anywhere. Nevertheless, it's also true that modern technology is significantly changing the ways in which relevant companies operate, even if the end game is still selling a product in person in a store environment.
“Tracking systems can make note of speeding, sudden stops and starts, and other indications of distracted or impaired driving, and alert managers accordingly.”
In particular, the emergence of the Internet Of Things (IoT), in conjunction with modern GPS, has resulted in a shifting logistical approach for major retail companies. The changes being made may never be noticed by the average customer, but from production to shipping fleets to store sales, there's a new landscape taking shape.
On the manufacturing side of things, the implementation of IoT technology is all about improving efficiency. Of course, that's not a bad description for the purpose of the IoT in general, but where production for major companies is concerned the difference in efficiency can be astronomical. Forbes pointed to a few different concepts and examples that essentially amount to automated data tracking systems being placed in manufacturing plants. These allow managers to monitor production activity remotely at plants all around the world, and to seamlessly gather data that can be used to make things faster and smoother. As one man is quoted as saying in the article, the use of new technologies is eliminating information gaps and allowing manufacturing plants to fully optimize production and eliminate waste.
Once the product is produced, we come to the actual shipping process, and that may actually be where the IoT has made the most significant impact. Thanks to GPS tracking and other wireless directions, fleet managers now have the capability to constantly follow all aspects of shipping efforts, from vehicle diagnostics to routing information. And according the Networkfleet the IoT has now even made it possible for fleet managers to keep track of their drivers' habits. Tracking systems can make note of speeding, sudden stops and starts, and other indications of distracted or impaired driving, and alert managers accordingly. All of this together makes for a vastly improved system in which drivers and fleet managers alike can be far more responsible for the safe and efficient delivery of product to retail locations.
When it comes to actually selling that product at store locations, a whole separate discussion could be had about the changing nature of stores due to the IoT. From in-store beacons to mobile apps, there are a lot of technological factors changing the ways in which customers engage with the stores they shop in. However, sticking with the logistics of the shipping process, there's also one more very key shift to make note of: the ability to automate inventory tracking. Covering multiple aspects of logistics management, IoT Worm pointed to this practice as a way to avoid the need for 24/7 human observation, and that ought to sound appealing to any manager or business owner. Basically, sensors can be used to notice when inventory is getting low and then automatically send an alert to a company system, setting the kicking off the shipping process anew. This not only makes restocking inventory a quicker and easier process, but should help to improve sales and cut back on waste, as inventory should always be stocked when a customer wants it, but will only be shipped when needed.
Altogether these developments make for a pretty significant overhaul of the logistics of shipping. And that's a good thing, not only for people in relevant businesses but likely for customers in the long run as well.