Guest Column | May 26, 2021

How To Use IoT Networks To Monitor Shoppers

By Shannon Flynn


In today’s saturated, highly competitive markets, data is king. Information about shopper behavior can help retailers maximize sales and outperform competitors, so it’s become a central part of e-commerce. IoT networks can help retailers get similar information about in-store shoppers.

IoT adoption is already high among shopkeepers. A 2019 Microsoft survey revealed that 87% of enterprise retailers believe IoT is crucial to their continued growth. Using these devices to monitor shoppers in-store can help you achieve that success.

Here’s how to use IoT networks to monitor shoppers.

Determine Your Goals

The first step in setting up one of these IoT networks is determining what you want from it. You could follow Walmart’s example and track how items sell to notify workers when to restock them. Alternatively, you could use IoT sensors to see what is catching visitors’ attention and what isn't.

Depending on what your goals are, what your network looks like can vary. You want to track only what you need so you avoid privacy complications and get the highest return on investment. That’s why you always want to solidify your goals before starting.

Get The Right Equipment

Once you know what you want to do with your network, you can start acquiring the pieces. If you’re tracking customer interactions with products, you’ll need vibration sensors. If you want to know when someone looks at an item, you’ll require light sensors.

When it comes to IoT devices, aim for the most straightforward solution possible. You don’t need cameras to track customer movements through a store when motion sensors suffice. Remember that you’ll need additional wireless infrastructure, ideally mesh Wi-Fi hubs, to support this system.

Start Small

As with any tech investment, it’s best to start small with IoT networks in retail stores. These systems can be complex, so doing this can help work with any obstacles before they become too significant.

Begin by targeting what you think will be the most valuable or relevant data. For example, maybe you want to see why a specific product isn’t selling, so you can start by installing light sensors near these items. These will reveal if customers are standing in front of them, passing by or not even approaching them.

After you learn how to work with this system, you can apply it to other products or start tracking other data points.

Make Sure The Network Is Secure

One often overlooked aspect of setting up IoT networks is cybersecurity. The more IoT devices you have in-store, the wider your potential attack surface is. While financial, retail and healthcare organizations are the most desirable targets for hackers, any business is at risk.

If you can, try to find IoT devices with built-in security measures like encryption and automatic updates. You should also host them on a separate network from other systems. This segmentation will prevent these devices from becoming backdoors to more sensitive data.

Act On The Data

Remember that data is only valuable to the extent that you use it. Once your system starts gathering information, you need to act on it. If you notice customers aren’t looking at one item, rearrange your store to draw more attention.

After making any changes, keep turning to your IoT network’s data to measure its success. If your adjustments didn’t impact consumer behavior, you could try another tactic. Using these systems to enable ongoing improvements will maximize their return on investment.

IoT Networks Are An Indispensable Resource For Retailers

Monitoring shoppers through an IoT network can provide actionable data without compromising consumer privacy. As the market continues to become more competitive, retailers will need to embrace these technologies.

With an IoT network, you can track in-store shopper behavior just as e-commerce sites do online. This data can help you optimize your business, making more sales, and minimizing waste. It takes careful consideration and planning, but it can yield impressive results.

About The Author

Shannon Flynn is a technology blogger who writes about AI and IT trends. She's also the Managing Editor of and freelances for sites like IoT for All, ChatbotNewsDaily, and more. Follow her on Medium or MuckRack to read more tech news.