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How IoT technology can help the retail trade in a Post Covid-19 era

As retail businesses begin to reopen following lockdown and government restrictions, many companies are looking at technology and IoT solutions to help comply with new regulations, while also safeguarding their staff and customers. IoT technology can assist retailers in a post-covid-19 era and give shoppers peace of mind as they return to the high street.

Our solutions team is beginning to field more enquiries from retailers, restaurants, hotels and leisure businesses who have either reopened or have a timescale for resuming operations. With different nations imposing a range of guidelines relating to occupancy, one-in-one-out, social distancing, layout and screening – the enforcement of these controls comes at a cost.

While many of these challenges can be solved with manual processes, the effective use of technology has the potential to reduce cost, improve efficiencies and help organisations continue to operate their business under challenging circumstances.

It is clear that covid-19 is seriously disrupting retail, so it is essential businesses look for solutions.

In this blog post, we look at some of the IoT and technology solutions that can help a business adhere to these new guidelines.

Where can IoT technology be deployed?

The use of IoT and technology for covid-19 applies to many sectors and situations:

  • Retail stores.
  • Hotel dining rooms.
  • Public buildings.
  • Beauty salons and hairdressers.
  • Doctors/Dental surgeries.
  • Leisure facilities.

Occupancy

People count example
Automated people counting can help enforce one-in-one-out policies

Shops may have restrictions on the number of shoppers who can enter their store at any one time. The limits may be based on the square footage or the type of business (essential vs non-essential). Many companies got around this issue by using signage on the doors, queue markers outside, having staff direct shoppers or hiring a third-party security firm to coordinate efforts. The effectiveness of each solution varies, and the more effective manual solutions come at a cost – particularly when people are involved.

Footfall counters and people analytics

Footfall counters and people analytics solutions are mature technologies that are used to accurately count people entering, moving within, or leaving a store. With accurate sensors positioned above the door, footfall counters have a 99.9% accurate count of people within the store. With an accurate count (without the need for staff members on the door), a business can ensure it is compliant with any regulations or policies.

Real-time displays and data

The data from these sensors can be displayed on the door, available to staff on tablets and head-office. The data can also be displayed on a website to indicate to potential shoppers peak-times.

Smartphone detection

It is also possible to use WiFi Smartphone detection sensors to provide trends of people within or adjacent to a building.

Our people analytics and footfall counting solutions are detailed here:

One-in-One-Out

Xovis Indoor Scanner
People counters are easy and quick to install without complex cabling.

Similar to occupancy sensors, one-in-one-out enforcement specifically focuses on indicating when people should, or should not, enter a store. A numeric limit is defined (i.e. 15) and the occupancy systems keep track of when someone can enter. A colour display can be positioned in the entrance, or along the queue, so people know when to enter, and how long they should wait.

Parking space detection

It is also possible to detect when parking spaces are occupied. Much like store occupancy, the ability to see if parking spaces are occupied helps contribute to a safer, more efficient shopping experience.

Temperature control and elevated skin temperature (EST) detection

Many countries are implementing temperature screening on their entry points to detect individuals with high skin or body temperatures. An elevated temperature may indicate a fever or symptoms potentially associated with covid-19. These screening systems can be installed on both the public and staff entrances.

There are many different solutions on the market; some test large numbers of people while others are more suited to a queue, where one person is screened at a time. MTG has developed an EST system using thermal cameras and also has an automated IR solution from Libelium available.

Find out more

To learn more about how technology can help your business in the post-covid-19 era, please get in touch. E-mail sales@mtg.im, click ‘Request a quote’ or call +44 1624 777837

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Joe Hughes is the CEO of Manx Technology Group. Joe has a background in software development, information security, networks, datacentres and enterprise IT.

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