The internet of things or IoT has been touted as one of the most hyped-up technologies that is seen to be significant in the near future. IoT will affect every space from smart homes to connected cars.
The largest beneficiary of the connectedness is likely to be the supply chain, says IoT and Big Data science writer, Yash Mehta. In a report released by Cisco and DHL, it is estimated that IoT will boost supply chain by $1.9 trillion (€1.62 trillion) of the $8 trillion (€6.84 trillion) market that IoT would generate. That is approximately 25% of the gross value that IoT would generate.
I came across an innovative company during a recent visit to the HongKong IoT expo. The company, Discovery, is tapping into this trillion dollar market with its IoT solution.
Following are some of the supply chain challenges in retail industry which our network shall address:
- Asset tracking
As a consequence of globalisation, companies in almost every industry cater to consumers spread across the globe. As a result, companies adopt different supply chain strategies for different geographies of operation. For instance, the supply chain strategy opted by Amazon in the US would be entirely different from that in India, owing to the fragmentation of retail in the latter’s geography. Asset tracking, therefore, is an issue owing to which companies cannot adopt a uniform solution across different geographies. Lack of visibility of products due to long channels of suppliers, importers, wholesalers, franchisees therefore causes inflated costs at both ends thereby affecting company’s revenue strategy and consumers alike. Due to this visibility issue, quality and delivery of products is also affected.
- Stock management
Stock-out and stock obsolescence are major problems faced by retailers. Stock-outs refer to situations when an item is no longer available at a retail store and stock obsolescence refers to situations when an item remains on the shelf due to lack of sales or early expiry dates. Currently, there is no optimal way to manage these issues without facing some delay in restocking the inventory. This has considerable impact on a company’s business, to the extent that, a survey about stock-outs concluded that a billion-dollar retailer would lose $40 million (€34.21 trillion) a year due to these hindrances.
- Retailer and customer relations
Being able to track assets would enable companies to distinguish retailers on the basis of performance. Connectedness enables companies to receive insights into the way products are being handled as well as the degree of supply chain management. At the same time, ensuring the quality of products being delivered and allowing customers to receive timely alerts of the status of an item, companies could improve customer retention rate and improve their brand name.
How Discovery addresses supply chain challenges
Discovery’s network involves three layers, namely- Cliot-IoT tag, the user community and data analytics. While the user community and data analytics form the software support for this network, Cliot forms the hardware solution.
Cliot is a revolutionary self-charging printable IoT tag that utilises backscattering technology to absorb surrounding electromagnetic waves to power itself up. The tag is being developed such that it can be mass produced and be affordable at a rate of $0.10 (€0.086) per tag.
It is being developed to handle around 100 pings per day. Cliot works by transmitting data to user smartphones installed with Discovery application, that are within 30m range via protocols like WiFi and Bluetooth. Besides, Cliot can also house sensors like IR, gyro, temperature sensors depending on the intended use. Without additional infrastructural support requirements, Discovery offers a solution that is highly scalable than any of the existing IoT solutions.
In essence, Cliot offers the following benefits to adopters:
- Inexpensive tracking solution:
With a cost as low as $0.04 (€0.034) per month for each product that is tracked, Discovery is undoubtedly a solution that has the potential to be massively adopted.
- Real time visibility:
Offering a network that can be utilised for visibility of inventory and sales data, Discovery enables businesses to get real time insight in supply chain workings. This insight is more effective for taking critical business decisions than adopting the traditional market research methods.
Tracker development progress
Discovery has launched a semi automatic tracking solution in March 2017 where products were tagged and captured manually through mobile application interface. Currently, a beta version of the tracker based on Bluetooth architecture is under development and is set to be launched in the second quarter of 2018.
The author of this blog is Yash Mehta an IoT and Big Data Science expert. He is an award-winning writer appearing in many publications