The retail industry was already experiencing dramatic change before COVID-19, but since, the pace of change has dramatically accelerated. Emerging fulfillment models like curbside pickup, buy online/pickup in-store (BOPIS), and contactless deliveries became a necessity overnight. But, with these low-to-no touch shopping, fulfillment, and customer service modalities, retailers need to find new ways to engage and delight customers. Nearly half of shoppers in a recent study indicate that they will continue using BOPIS and contactless deliveries even after the pandemic eases for both safety and convenience. With Estimote, retailers can quickly create connected solutions for inventory and workforce management to safely deliver these new models and strengthen their brand.
Aiming to be the operating system for the physical world, Estimote’s location and proximity platform helps retailers build safe workplaces to maximize their uptime and productivity. Small wearable devices, similar to beacons, collect employee location information, providing a window into real-time and historical information. Armed with this precise contact-tracing information, retailers can help keep employees safe in the instance of exposure to COVID-19 and also limit the impact of any site quarantines.
Retailers face significant cost and efficiency challenges across their complex ecosystem, from manufacturing and distribution to order fulfillment and returns. But a whopping 40 percent of their costs are incurred in what retailers call the “last mile”—getting the goods from a transportation hub to the final delivery destination.
Unfortunately, this “last mile” is also where the pandemic hit the hardest across distribution centers and retail outlets. These facilities could not open without new COVID-safety precautions and contact tracing. Estimote knew their solution could help retailers solve the safety challenge and also streamline their operations. But connectivity in distribution centers, warehouses, inventory rooms, pick-up counters, and parking lots varied dramatically. Distribution centers could be in the middle of urban concrete jungles with poor connectivity. Parking lots and retail outlets had little or no WiFi to tap into. Plus, the sites could be located anywhere in the world.
Estimote faced some significant technology barriers. With globally geographically dispersed customers, they needed a cellular IoT solution that could work across carrier networks—indoor, outdoor, remote, urban, anywhere, all the time—with a consistent pricing model.
“When we decided to focus on worker safety in light of COVID, it wasn't obviously clear to us how we would scale internationally," Estimote’s Head of Product Engineering DJ Hayden said. “We needed to deliver a solution that was easy for customers to implement, could be trusted for data accuracy and worked seamlessly, in any type of environment, globally.”
“Fortunately, Twilio had a solution that worked across the world that enabled us to build technologies from a global perspective," Hayden said. "We were able to thrive immediately in markets where we thought we would have to spend months building out connectivity solutions.”
With the Estimote platform in place, retailers can access real-time information from the contact tracing dashboard.
With microlocation tracking, retailers know exactly where team members are now, and where they have been. This allows them to disinfect and potentially close only the affected zone, not the entire facility.
The cellular connectivity is the backbone of the platform, communicating data to a secure infrastructure and the contract dashboard.
“With the Twilio Super SIM, we were able to create redundancies and operate seamlessly in 22 countries serving up our IoT platform,” Hayden said. “Twilio’s multiple carrier networks, consistent pricing, and high reliability freed us from worrying about the connectivity infrastructure so that we could focus on scaling our solution. Just since the start of COVID-19, retail customers in 22 different countries have transacted 71 GB of data over cellular with IoT stack and 14B+ digital interactions captured in contract tracing platform.”