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This article discusses how sophisticated technology can transform retail assets. When delivered as an end-to-end managed service, this integrated approach can open-up new revenue and insight opportunities for consumer goods firms.

Advances in machine-to-machine (M2M) technology have made it possible to connect almost anything, enabling the assets themselves to communicate critical information. This capability is starting to transform not only the way that these assets are managed but it is also improving their performance.

Using remote asset management solutions, operators can significantly improve the efficiency with which retail display cabinets such as coolers or freezers are managed, presenting numerous advantages for the equipment owner.

Vodafone’s Connected Cabinet service enables retail cabinets to proactively report their location as well as operational parameters such as temperature and humidity, the status of the cooler engine, as well as information about the cabinet usage.

For owners and operators of retail cabinets, giving ‘voice’ to assets can be used to dramatically reduce asset downtime and improve the way stock levels are managed. By avoiding stock outages and optimising the frequency with which the machine is refilled consumers using the machine are less likely to be disappointed due to of lack of choice or availability.

The ability to leverage accurate, real-time data generated on the shop floor or at the point of sale is another major advantage of connected cabinet technology. Unlike its ordinary counterparts, a connected fridge or freezer cabinet can say if it is too hot, too cold, or situated in the wrong place.

It also provides a regular stream of up-to-the-minute information on customer behaviour, keeping track of how often cabinets are opened, for instance, as well as enabling the equipment owner to also see how long they are opened for. This information, while not 100 per cent accurate consumption data, will give the operator a very good indication of stock levels and impact of promotions.

This real-time insight can help organisations to make better business decisions and can be used, for instance, to maintain the optimum temperature of chilled or frozen goods, ensuring product quality and reducing the likelihood of waste. High product quality at the point of sale is an easy way to drive product sales. The accurate data generated can also be leveraged by the operator to improve the design of new machines according to the needs of different retail environments.

Connected Cabinets have a huge potential. Imagine a unit with an LCD display that can show dynamic promotions and pricing, or providing consumers with unique content – or even internet access creating a hotspot to the point of sale. All of these are possible with today’s technology. This shift from passive to smart and active assets forms a clear roadmap for the retail display cabinets.

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