Start with the internet of YOUR things

Having already said that the internet of things is not about the things, it wouldn’t the IoT without them. We’re not talking about an Internet of All New Things though; most retailers in 2015 will already have a digital foundation they can build on. If you start with what you have: your point of sale, your barcodes and scanners, your inventory tagging and tracking system of choice, then you're not looking at massive capex to get going. Your existing digital capability gives you a base level of personalization data including purchases, average spend, which items are moving, which promotions are working, when your busy and quiet periods are.

Add in some new tech where it’ll be most useful: beacons can tell you when people enter the store and help track their movements around it; NFC is also useful for detecting customer movement and both can be used to trigger signage and displays when people come into range.

One of the most sophisticated sensors you can collect data from is actually your customers' mobile phones. If they’ve installed your app and agreed to the T&C, you've got permission to use their data: location if their GPS is enabled, in-app usage, social profiles if they’ve given permission to Facebook or Twitter or G+. So collect live marketing data from those mobile devices, from customer interactions with your store app, and from their use of your in-store WiFi. Use that data in combination with data from other on- and offline sources to create customer profiles and start modelling intent.

A holistic approach to IoT data collection and analysis is important; you’re not just analyzing in-store traffic, or looking at how people are using apps or adding to their web wish-lists. You’re analyzing all that useful information you're collecting to get a detailed picture of customer behavior, then using your analysis to predict how those customers are going to act in future - what they’ll want to buy and when.

This isn't something completely new; marketers have been heading in this direction for years. And better yet, it’s not about spending a huge amount of money on new technology with still-to-be-proven ROI. It's about making better use of the resources and tech you already have, adding new tech that will give you better insights into customer behavior, and using the data you collect smartly. We now have more opportunities than ever before – everyone's got a phone with them most of the time, and they're letting us install our technology on their devices so we can personalize their experiences.

When you use data from your IoT sensors to deliver more relevant content to customers, that's when you’ll see some really interesting – really valuable – things happen with behavior change. For more on how personalized marketing and the Internet of (your!) Things will transform retail , check out the recent webinar Plexure hosted in cooperation with RIS News and Microsoft.