IoT Helping Multi-Site Businesses Stay Relevant in the Age of Online Disruptions
Brick and mortar-based businesses face immense pressure and stiff challenges in staying relevant and competing with the e-commerce model of business. Apart from pricing pressures, ever increasing costs like rentals, energy and manpower along with human resource attrition and the constant demand to provide uniformity of customer experience challenge profitability continuously. These goals are achievable for a business located in just one or two centers, but they can become extraordinarily challenging when the site count runs into the hundreds.
Large chain businesses often struggle to provide a consistent experience to customers across their networks and to monitor their infrastructure performance with ease and agility, as well as in real-time. Optimal use of power intensive-resources such as HVAC, refrigeration, lighting and a robust security, fire control and building automation system is a key priority for multi-site operators. Also, to remain competitive, retailers must deliver a better customer experience in their stores.
Leveraging Multi-Site Business with IoT
The smart building market in India was valued at USD $1883.89 million in FY2021 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of around 11.08% during FY2022 – FY2027. IoT-enabled smart buildings have the potential to create a level of efficiency and effectiveness, which may help multi-site businesses become more attractive and lucrative than they would otherwise be.
The IoT enables traditional brick-and-mortar stores to compete with the online-first business world by supporting solutions that can radically transform the customer experience, or decrease operating costs. IoT helps multisite businesses to improve their store economics by simplifying, eliminating or automating routine activities. 2It also helps retailers address their Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals and regulatory requirements. ESG goal achievement is a key metric that socially conscious investors use to screen potential investments, according to Investopedia.
Predictive Equipment Maintenance with IoT
For multi-site businesses, downtime of retail outlets due to breakdown is something to be absolutely avoided as it causes monetary as well as reputational losses. They could spend a large sum each year to repair malfunctions in critical equipment like Uninterrupted Power Supply, Diesel Generator sets, HVAC, refrigeration units, ovens and fryers or electrical circuitry issues. While monetary losses, preferably avoided, could potentially be covered over time, it is the reputational loss from malfunctions that worries retailers. An IoT-enabled store operation can help detect malfunctions before they occur, and thus enable the owner to timely schedule preventive maintenance. IoT platforms driven by data collected from sensors and connected equipment can provide predictive failure notifications to facility managers ahead of time, to provide alerts of a likely malfunction.
IoT enables business operators or facility managers to plan their maintenance schedule to further optimize operations and boost key performance metrics. In several cases, maintenance expenditures can be drastically decreased by increasing the number of remote maintenance operations while decreasing field inspections.
Keeping equipment working within design specifications also has the potential to save big on energy spend in cases where the equipment has been operating outside of such specifications.
IoT-based energy management solutions also help multi-site businesses achieve ESG goals and get future-ready.
Multi-site businesses in India are growing and expanding, especially after a long lull due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 3A recent survey by the Retailers Association of India (RAI) reports that the retail industry has witnessed 10 percent business growth in February 2022 compared to a year earlier.
Multi-site businesses are now largely relying on data-driven automation and optimization, to maximize integrated store experience, increase occupant comfort, enhance supply chain operations, and most importantly, reduce energy misuse and waste and increase business profitability. By fundamentally enhancing the consumer experience and lowering operating expenses, IoT enables traditional brick-and-mortar business establishments to successfully compete with today’s online-first shopping consumer landscape.
(The author is Mr. HAPS Dhillon, General Manager & Global Practice Head, EcoEnergy Insights and the views expressed in this article are his own)