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Internet of Things: Retail’s Newest Watchdog

The Internet of Things is transforming the in-store experience. From smart thermostats that improve energy use, to smart shelves that detect low inventory, the entire retail experience is going through a transformation. These upcoming advances in technology can also help mitigate risk down the road.

With facility safety, the IoT is like a watchdog. If a refrigerator door is left ajar, a light in the parking lot goes out, glass breaks, or food isn't cold or hot enough, related systems know. Sensors can then trigger corrective measures, such as an automated door closure, temperature adjustment or maintenance work order.

As retailers continue to increase their portfolio size, they also welcome more risk. When accidents occur, they’re accompanied by costs associated with physical damage, loss of business, and legal fees. These costs add up across numerous locations, so it’s crucial to mitigate risk whenever possible.

Food-safety issues cause 48 million illnesses and 128,000 hospitalizations every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The legal duty of care to protect customers begins at the facility level, but extends vertically into the corporate structure.

Facility micro-management is an unsustainable model, especially across multiple sites. However, recent changes to the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) promote data collection as an effective solution. Sensing, monitoring, and data extraction technologies convert facility conditions into usable data points with minimal hands-on involvement.

Sensors can continually track food temperature, humidity shifts, and equipment maintenance issues. They can also pinpoint facility-level worker patterns such as refrigerator doors left ajar and unsafe cooking temperatures. The extracted data reveals patterns behind food safety issues, which become the basis for corrective strategies.

Improved Technology Promote Safer Conditions

Slip, trip, and fall incidents and other injuries account for 10 percent of all property liability claims each year, according to Insurance Journal. Accident and injury claims cost businesses an average of $20,000 to $30,000 per incident, but they're largely preventable through technology.

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Sensors help regulate site conditions. For example, need-based lighting activates and adjusts when site conditions warrant it, which is more efficient than lighting activated by timers. Sensors also provide data about site damage, such as broken lights, which can trigger a work order with little or no management intervention.

Avoid Risk Through Preventative Technology Solutions

Some accidents are unavoidable, but when they are preventable, technology can help. Solutions such as sensors and smart systems excel at spotting health and safety issues, including those that lurk, to keep the business and its customers on the safe side. When it comes to minimizing accident claim costs for retailers, technology is trending up.

The more you incorporate safety-enhancing technology, the less likely accidents and injuries are to happen. As we look forward to the future of retail, it is clear that technology will play a large role in keeping our facilities safe for customers and employees alike.

In the meantime, there are other ways to protect yourself from costs related to accident claims, such as partnering with a facilities maintenance solution that takes safety as seriously as you do.

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