The “Internet of Things” — in which real things are connected to virtual networks — is transforming every part of retail operations, according to Michael Chui, a partner at the McKinsey Global Institute. For example, sensors strategically placed within stores could track inventory, recognize customers and even bill them for items they take out of the store — all without requiring that they visit a checkout counter. “That could create a really interesting way to improve the customer experience,” he said.

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