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The retail market is growing globally. Considering the figures, global retail sales are estimated to reach $26 trillion by the end of 2022. The projected retail market growth in the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) to reach $308 billion by 2023. There is a need to drive energy efficiency and optimal operations in retail stores. 

Why is energy management critical for retail stores?

After COVID-19, it’s crucial for retail to be cost-effective and lean. Also, energy is the third biggest spend in this sector, but it’s still controllable. The automation can deliver 10-20% energy savings. As a result, retail outlets can improve their bottom line by 1-2% and drive the tangible outcome by saving energy and optimizing it through automation. So, let’s first understand various types of retail stores.

Type of retail stores

There are three types of retail stores: 

  • Small-sized retail stores (500 – 5,000 sq. ft.) 

It includes typical assets such as Split ACs, signages, lighting, cold rooms, etc. 

  • Medium-sized retail stores ( 5,000 – 20,000 sq. ft.) 

It includes assets such as Cassette ACs/ Split ACs, Chillers, lighting, exhausts, etc. 

  • Large-sized retail stores ( 20,000 – 60,000 sq. ft.) 

The complexity of assets goes a bit higher in these retail stores. They generally include multiple chilling units, VRVs, ductable ACs, AHUs, DGs, lighting, etc. 

IoT-based solutions serve all sizes of retail stores and seamlessly integrate with different equipment across multiple store formats. It can control these assets cost-effectively. In addition to it, these smart solutions solve domain-specific use cases across multiple sub-verticals in retail e.g. QSR, Hypermarkets, Apparel-retail, Pharmacy retail, etc. 

Challenges faced by retail stores 

Geographically distributed retail stores lead to inconsistent operations that create these challenges: 

  1. High energy cost 
  • Equipment operating outside operational hours 
  • Sub-optimal equipment settings, which are not dynamic with changing environmental conditions
  • Equipment inefficiency due to lack of timely maintenance 
  • Poor power factor leading to the electricity bill penalties 

2. Low compliance 

  • Undesired temperature and humidity levels across different areas – Customer comfort issues 
  • The temperature outside the compliance range in cold rooms/chillers/freezers – food safety issues 

3. Electrical health & safety risk 

  • No visibility into asset health resulting in untimely breakdowns
  • Current and voltage imbalance leading to electrical hazards 

4. Other issues 

  • Lack of visibility into solar power 
  • Unfamiliar with the carbon footprint of the sites 
  • No multi-site visibility of asset operations 
  • Lack of detailed visibility of each retail site 

How does IoT deliver energy savings for retail stores?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a powerful technology that can help retail stores to achieve maximum operational efficiency and save a considerable amount of energy on a day-to-day basis. Here’s understand how: 

  1. Automation 
  • IoT automates assets with intelligent controls that increase operational efficiency and reduce energy wastage like assets running out of operational hours, etc. 

Eg. An exhaust fan can be turned on based on the operation of a pizza oven. The oven switches on, and the exhaust fan automatically turns on. 

  • It offers real-time and centralized monitoring of assets across multiple outlets to identify energy-saving opportunities.    

2. Analytics 

  • IoT delivers fault detection & diagnosis of assets with poor health that reduce energy losses and other safety hazards 
  • It comes with AI/ML-based predictive maintenance that reduces unforeseen asset breakdowns 
  • It reduces safety hazards & other penalties by reporting anomalies like high voltages, unbalanced load division & poor power factor 

By driving energy efficiency in retail buildings, IoT offers tangible energy savings that facilities can see in their energy bills. 

Benefits of IoT-based automation for retail stores 

Retail buildings can leverage the IoT solutions to tap the long-term benefits such as: 

  1. 10% – 20% reduction in energy cost 
  2. 25% – 30% improvement in operational compliance 
  3. 30% – 35% improvement in occupant comfort 
  4. 20% – 25% reduction in equipment breakdown 

Why is the world moving towards IoT-based automation?

Building Management Systems (BMS) has been in place for almost three decades, performing automation of equipment in buildings. However, this space has seen major innovation over the years and better products and systems have been introduced to augment its capabilities. Over the last few years, several new IoT technologies have emerged, leading to modular, low-cost, intelligent, and cloud-connected systems that can leverage large volumes of data collected from within the buildings. It delivers next-generation IoT-powered automation in a wireless, and cost-effective manner. 

  • Hardware light and software intelligent solution – IoT is AI/ML-based intelligent software with minimum hardware. This feature was not present in traditional BMS. It comes with actuators and sensors that communicate wirelessly to the nearest gateway on the cloud. This reduces cost by a whopping 60%.
  • Wireless technology – IoT sensors and actuators don’t need physical wiring for connecting assets. It makes deployment and maintenance easier for retail facilities. 
  • OEM & Machine Agnostic – IoT solutions can be deployed with equipment of multiple OEMs.
  • A perfect plug & play solution – Fast and easy to deploy in a retail building 
  • Cost-effective – IoT solutions require less hardware that significantly reduces the deployment and maintenance costs 
  • Shorter ROI periods – IoT delivers returns within 12-14 months. In comparison to a traditional building management system (BMS), it offers a great ROI. 

Want to drive energy efficiency and savings in your retail outlet? Reach out to Zenatix! Being one of the leading IoT companies in India, we help our clients to transform their facilities into intelligent buildings by offering smart solutions. 

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