8 Low-cost IoT Vendors for Retailers
In “‘Internet of Things’ Helping Ecommerce Merchants,” I explained how IoT could make smaller retailers more efficient and save money. This post takes IoT a step further, by listing affordable vendors that can help smaller companies. The vendors are listed in no particular order and their inclusion in this list is not an endorsement or necessarily a recommendation.
Impinj provides radio frequency identification — RFID — solutions to retailers for identifying, locating, and authenticating inventory items. Impinj was launched roughly 15 years ago; it is a leader in RFID intelligence. Retailers that use Impinj include American Apparel, Billabong, and Cleor, among others. UPS is an investor in Impinj.
Retailers use Impinj RFID services to deliver real-time information about tagged inventory items. This information improves visibility in the supply chain, leading to better decision-making and lower operational costs.
To start using Impinj, review the website to find a local partner for designing and deploying the solution. Pricing starts from a just few hundred dollars.
The company offers two pricing models. First, if the solution is public and shares its data and applications, it costs nothing to use BugLabs. Otherwise there is a small fee, usually less than $100 per month, for private use.
Consider BugLabs if your solution is for the public domain, or if the team building the solution wants to utilize pre-built connectivity and visualization capabilities.
mCube makes motion sensors to enable what it calls the “Internet of moving things.” mCube started in 2009. Its sensors are heavily used in wearables, tablets, and smartphones across multiple industries.
mCube’s technology makes any object smart by using a motion sensor. Everyday objects and devices can measure, monitor, and analyze motion and context in space, generating massive amounts of data and insight. Retailers utilize these insights to lower operational costs and improve the customer experience. Use cases include tracking shipments and clothing with built-in motion sensing capability.
Pricing starts at less than $3 for a single sensor. But the product requires hardware integration with the semiconductor chip in any device.
Pick this vendor if the use case requires analyzing motion and the retailer can integrate the mCube semiconductor chip.
Evrythng’s mission is to connect everything to the Internet of Things. Its platform benefits a retailer’s business by collecting, managing, and analyzing real-time data captured from smart products. This is made possible by utilizing Evrythng’s partners that offer embedded devices, smart packaging, systems integration, and creative services.
Evrythng offers prototype kits for retrofitting existing products to make them smarter. Additionally, the platform is designed to scale as a business grows to support millions of connected devices with proven low latency, high availability, and end-to-end security.
This four-year old company envisions that retailers will not only benefit from using its platform to track products but will also be able to understand how the customers are using those products. This information can be helpful in understanding customers and improving products to meet their needs. Evrythng has a solution brief on inventory management on its website.
Pick this vendor if your company already works with one or more Evrythng partners and your use case is for consumers.
Phunware is a six-year-old location-enabled mobile app solution that helps combat showrooming and guides an opted-in shopper’s purchase path across different channels in real-time. An example would be an existing customer in a retailer’s brick-and-mortar store. The customer has her mobile phone connected to the store’s iBeacon or Wi-Fi service and, based on that, the retailer can push specific offers to its mobile app or even allow the customer to check out using the mobile app after, say, selecting the right color and size.
Phunware provides a data sheet on its site for retailers to get started. Retailers have a free, limited content option. If retailers require more content, they can purchase a 1-month subscription for $4.99, 3 months for $12.99, or a yearly subscription for $49.99.
Pick this vendor if your existing customer base shops across channels and you want to offer richer functionality in a brick-and-mortar store.
Carriots is a four-year-old company that spun out of a larger organization with experience in the IoT and machine-to-machine space. Carriots is based in Europe and offers an IoT platform that can connect to different devices, collect data, analyze it, and take actions based on the insights.
Carriots has several use cases documented on its website but the one that is relevant for retailers is smart logistics. Carriots’ software is free for up to 10 devices. After that, it costs a few Euros per month.
This vendor can appeal to retailers based in Europe and getting started with smart logistics.
Zatar is an enterprise IoT platform that provides a standards-based approach to connectivity and control of devices along with open APIs to create apps, onboard devices, and enable collaboration. Zatar connects to devices and represents them as avatars within its platform. This makes it easier to identify devices and use them as part of different solutions.
Zatar is used for multiple verticals. One that is unique is cold-chain monitoring for retailers. This uses smart labels for item tracking and taking timely action before the perishable products go bad.
Pricing starts from a few dollars a month for each device.
RetailNext offers in-store analytics by processing data streams from video cameras, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth devices, point-of-sale systems, staffing systems, promotional calendars, payment cards, weather, and other inputs. It then produces web dashboards and custom reports from that data.
The insights are used to make data-driven decisions and implement strategies to generate more traffic to the store and increase the profit per customer. RetailNext also offers a solution for shopper engagement that combines online and in-store shopping behavior to personalize mobile interactions and offers.
Bloomingdales and Brookstone are examples of the many retailers that use RetailNext’s platform
Pricing starts from a few thousand dollars for installation and varies based on the size of the store. Subscription to monthly analytics ranges from $50 to $250.
Pick this vendor if data streams from multiple in-store sources need to be analyzed in real time.