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Retailers to invest US$2.5b on IoT by 2020, primarily into beacon technology

Fresh data from Juniper Research predicts retail companies will invest US$2.5 billion into new technology to take advantage of the Internet of Things by 2020.

Such an increase would represent a four-fold growth in investment over just five years, from the current base of $670 million.

Retailers’ investment will primarily go into Bluetooth Beacons, which enable visibility over footfall and push relevant information customers’ smartphones, and Radio Frequency ID (RFID) tags, which assist with real-time asset tracking.

Beyond the hardware, linking the RFID tags, beacons and connected consumer electronics, such as wearables, with software analytics promises in-depth business insight and an enhanced customer experience.

“Retailers such as Zara and Target are already taking advantage of the benefits offered by RFID asset tracking,” noted Steffen Sorrell, author of the report The Internet of Things: Consumer, Industrial & Public Services 2015-2020.

“Meanwhile the beacon industry is expanding rapidly; used as a method to provide consumers with contextually relevant information in conjunction with their smartphone or wearable will enormously enhance the in-store experience,” he said.

Juniper Research also found that with the number of connected units within the IoT forecast to reach 38.5 billion in 2020, attitudes and methods with regards to cyber security will have to undergo fundamental change.

“The IoT security model will require robust means of identifying inevitable network breaches. Should suspicious activity be detected, parts of the network can then be ‘shut off’ in a similar fashion to marine vessel bulkheads to prevent attack spread,” the report said.