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Retailers preparing for hyper-relevance and Internet of Things impact

By July 25, 2016Article

Mobile connectivity, IoT smart devices of all sorts and big data analytics platforms have created a point of convergence between online and storefront shopping experiences. The overall digital experience is now fundamental to the entire shopping experience both in and out of the store. A new reality for shoppers is beginning to take shape and, because of that, retailers would be wise to change the ways they think and invest in digital infrastructure to meet customer needs. Hyper-relevance is the buzzword — growing in circulation — that describes this new paradigm. 

Hyper-relevance is a methodology and mode of thinking that is founded on the understanding that data gathering is the key to understanding customer buying habits in depth. Using insights from customer data in ways that integrate the customer’s online and on-premises shopping experiences is the crux of hyper-relevance and should encourage customer loyalty and further data sharing. 

The age of ecommerce has taught retailers that getting customers into the store does not necessarily bring them closer to a sale. Mobile devices place the world of alternative choice right into the buyer’s hand. And buyers are using their mobile devices to bargain hunt right in the store. 

According to Google’s Consumer Barometer, all age groups are using smartphones and 14 percent of smartphone users practice in-store price comparison. Others are visiting stores to inspect or try on products to give a more informed perspective on their online shopping decisions. Shop owners have been frustrated by these trends for years. Hyper-relevant marketing campaigns could be used to help with this. 

Hyper-relevance takes customer engagement into a new dimension. The IoT and the enhanced connectivity of many kinds of devices, the addition of microsensors and RFID tags that can be attached to almost anything, including people, opens up new categories of consumer insights. For shop owners, hyper-relevance can help deliver robustly personalized, immersive shopping experiences.

Of course, nobody is saying it’s easy. As Cisco pointed out in its Hyper-Relevant Retailer whitepaper, investments in IoT and hyper-relevance “have resulted in growing operational complexity, and retailers have not consistently achieved what consumers really desire: greater efficiency, savings, and engagement, both in-store and out.” 

Hyper-relevance carries all the usual challenges of big data. Those include designing a data analytics model, figuring out the type of connected smart devices that will cultivate the most useful data and then investing in a big data analytics platform that will turn statistics into customer insights. Here are a few ways retailers are doing that currently. 

  • Personalized shopping experience This involves setting up a system of IoT touchpoints to track customer behavior and then tailoring marketing efforts to suit individual customers. Examples: offering discounts or special deals based on weather, time of day, location and individual habits. McDonald’s in Sweden is already doing this, according to
  • Delivery and distribution — Using RFID tags on parcels enables up-to-the-minute, real-time package tracking.
  • Workplace management Hyper-relevance doesn’t have to be all about the customer. An IoT ecosystem can also create efficiencies for workers as well. Employee schedules can be designed around insights regarding peak sale periods, and stores can be laid out in ways that optimize the flow of foot traffic. 

Hyper-relevance is no easy task, but the data backing it tells us it’s worth the effort. 

Cisco’s white paper revealed that shoppers seek a hyper-relevance more than personalization. The difference between the two is that personalization is when a retailer knows who a customer is. Hyper-relevance is when a “retailer knows exactly what a customer is trying to accomplish in a real-time shopping context.” 

Cisco found that retailers that figure out the hyper-relevance formula can improve their profits by 15.6 percent. Those that don’t figure it out stand to see those improvements go to their competitors. 

Rick Delgado is a technology commentator and writer. He writes for,, and Follow him on Twitter. 














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