Black Friday is upon us once again, accompanied by the familiar levels of retail-induced excitement as many shoppers plan to bag a pre-Christmas bargain. Last year, it was the first ever £1 billion shopping day here in the UK, while in the US, spending levels reached nearly 50 times that figure. It’s safe to say that hitting the shops this Friday 25th November is not for the faint-hearted, but it is possible that the mayhem may soon become a distant memory. Read on to find out how IoT could make a real difference to the Black Fridays of the future.

As retailers plan to slash prices for record numbers of shoppers, and consumers prepare to spend £12,000 a second on their Christmas shopping, not everybody is feeling so seasonally excited about the annual event. For many of us, the idea of queuing to get into car parks, scrambling through crowds and dealing with stressed out shop assistants is enough to keep us locked up indoors.  Problems in the past have included shoppers fighting over discounted TV sets and police having to issue warnings to retailers to step up their security measures.

What if things could be different? What if smart technology could revolutionise festive shopping and turn Black Friday from a nightmare into an efficient and enjoyable retail experience? This dream may not be too far away with the dawn of Smart Retail just on the horizon and the Internet of Things playing a key role in improving the individual customer’s experience and the retailer’s bottom line.

Vending technology – interactive, customisable shopping systems located in store – could provide the solution to the scrums. Consumers can choose and pay for products on touch screens whilst being guided through the shopping process calmly and efficiently. There are even systems incorporating scent and touch to give shoppers the full aesthetic experience. Watch this video from Tech Insider on the McDonald’s vending technology to imagine what a difference this kind of technology could make to the Black Friday experience.

Digital signage can help retailers to manage stock levels and connect with shoppers, reducing frustration and any consequential confrontation – good news for stores who are having to call in extra security once again this year.

Switching to innovative point of sale (POS) and payment technology could mean that queues become a distant memory of Black Fridays gone by. Mobile POS at multiple points around or even outside stores could transform the way in which retailers deal with the flow of shoppers, reducing the overall time spent in store, and making a calmer shopping experience for everybody.

Smart Messaging will make it easier for retailers to communicate directly with their customers using technology designed to personalise advertising and information for the individual consumer. Customisable billboards and targeted messages to customers’ smartphones could make the shopping experience more streamlined whilst benefiting retailers by increasing sales and building customer loyalty.

Black Friday as we know it is unlikely to be around much longer as retailers adopt these new technologies in order to avoid queues and chaos in their shops. Smart Retail is just around the corner and we’re looking forward to a calmer shopping experience in the future. For a more detailed look at the impact Smart Retail is likely to have on the way we shop, download our Smart Retail Whitepaper here.

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