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The need for a smart building automation solution in retail stores

Garima Bharadwaj
Garima Bharadwaj

3rd October 2022


The digital transformation of traditional brick-and-mortar retail has accelerated as a result of the rising dominance of e-commerce and the increasing prominence of disruptive technologies. Also, the retail sector is evolving, and so are consumers’ expectations. In fact, retailers must contend with rising competition, soaring location prices, difficult recruiting situations, developing technologies, and expanding demand for sustainable solutions while also meeting consumer experience criteria.

For the majority of retailers, this scenario is similar to oscillating between various fronts. The most difficult aspect of the fight is deciding where to focus the majority of one’s efforts and resources in order to maximise long-term sustainability and ROI while maintaining a high standard of service. How is this accomplished? Retailers can be given the tools to accomplish these aims by developing an Internet of Things (IoT)-based smart building strategy, which is collectively achieved by building automation systems. In this blog, we’ll briefly go over why retail stores need a smart building automation solution.

What is a Building Automation Solution?

Building management systems usually referred to as building automation systems, have long been a key component of energy management in many industrial and commercial establishments. The BMS design, which was first introduced in the late 1800s, has seen some significant evolutions, most significantly from pneumatic systems to computer-based process control systems. However, the majority of BMS in use today continue to provide the same job for which they were initially designed: to facilitate control of essential building services, primarily HVAC systems.

In addition, commercial building sectors make a sizable contribution to carbon dioxide emissions since populated buildings use more than 40% of the world’s energy. Energy conservation and emission reduction begin to attract more attention when issues of sustainable measures to prevent global warming are raised. Many buildings all around the world are utilising technological advancements to improve operational effectiveness and sustainability practices. In order to do this, smart building automation systems (BAS) and IoT technologies can improve indoor environments in buildings, expedite management procedures, and increase energy efficiency.

Building automation has the highest rate of growth in the IoT market, according to a Gartner article. IoT is emerging as a potential option as the demand for obsolete building management systems (BMS) to be digitally transformed grows. Furthermore, businesses in the construction-related industries, especially the retail sector will be significantly impacted by the expanding IoT adoption in smart buildings.

Features of Building Automation Solutions for Retail Stores

The primary factor people take into account when considering building automation systems is the reduction in energy overconsumption. It’s highly beneficial for your business, the environment, and corporate social responsibility to cut down on your energy usage. In fact, building automation systems do more than only reduce energy use. They keep occupant comfort levels constant. Air quality sensors and leak detectors guarantee that your building area is safe and compliant with requirements. The interactive user interface of building automation systems makes jobs for facility maintenance and management easier. 

Through performance optimization, equipment life extension, and reduced maintenance expenses, data insights enable cost savings. Managers are informed of any system or equipment performance that deviates from the standard by real-time system monitoring. Costly equipment breakdowns are averted with the help of these notices and alarms.

Furthermore, building automation systems provide crucial data about labour behaviour and equipment performance in retail facilities. One of the most difficult parts of establishing long-term energy efficiency is occupant behaviour. Your BMS’s insights assist you in creating a baseline of occupant behaviour. With this knowledge, you can start a sustainability campaign to convince people to support your efforts to conserve energy.

Offers real-time insights into business operations and visibility

Modern BAS’s sophisticated energy analytics and reporting can offer real-time transparency and insights into retail building operations, which older systems cannot. The solution enables managers to monitor energy usage trends, heat loads, occupancy measurements, and other critical statistics via IoT-enabled devices and sensors attached to individual zones. They are able to identify pressures on the electricity system as a result and make quick adjustments. Furthermore, because it has predictive analytics, it can alert management when equipment service and maintenance are required. Furthermore, lower energy consumption and higher operational efficiency are made possible by these cutting-edge features. Smart BAS, from the perspective of business experts, might assist businesses in reducing energy use in existing buildings by 30 to 50 percent or more. Some of the biggest Indian IT businesses have saved over 55% on power as a result of adopting smart building automation systems.

Prioritising occupants’ well-being

The smart BAS can help with facility management in the retail sector while also enhancing occupier health. By continuously monitoring these factors, IoT-powered BAS pro actively maintains the temperature, air quality, and lighting at the proper levels. As a result, residents can take advantage of a cosier and healthier indoor atmosphere. Smart sensors also give occupants access to personalised experiences. For instance, people can easily change the temperature in their area using mobile applications, or they can report and rate the conditions in the facility right now. Because of this, the management board may keep a close eye on customer satisfaction to guarantee a high occupancy rate and return on investment.

Prompt modernization

Facility owners of the retail sector don’t have to spend a fortune to convert outdated systems into IoT-powered BAS. IoT sensors with batteries offer low cost and excellent adaptability to the majority of modern automation systems. Because of its robust, scalable, and low-power IoT connectivity, you can integrate sensors around the facility to gather detailed insights into various building functions and dispersed assets. As new business requirements and remodelling demands materialise, the existing sensors can easily be moved or installed along the line. More than just reducing energy use, smart building automation can revolutionise the way retail buildings are designed, run, and maintained. Future building operations will be shaped by the integration of cutting-edge technology like 5G and AI into smart building automation systems.

Cost reduction for building management systems

Traditional building management systems range in price from $2.5 to $7 per square foot or $250,000 to $700,000 for a structure with 100,000 square feet. For the majority of construction firms, calculating ROI becomes difficult because a poor ROI would constrain owners’ willingness to invest in a BMS. An IoT-based monitoring system, however, might range in price from $5,000 to $50,000. When compared to a conventional BMS, an IoT-based method incorporating wireless sensors can cut deployment costs by 30%. As a result, businesses should anticipate higher returns on investment because maintaining their facilities is now less expensive and more effective.

How does smart building automation efficiently use IoT Technology?

To explain in a brief manner, the contemporary BAS system performs better than conventional ones with two excellent components. IoT-powered metres that enable building supervision are the first. To measure real-time utility usage of resources like electricity, gas, and water, they can connect tens of thousands of sensors. It allowed building managers to keep an eye on the building’s general operations from a single dashboard. 

The second noteworthy BAS feature is the sophisticated analytics system that examines data gathered from metres and sensors. The results offer practical knowledge for proactive upkeep and the avoidance of unplanned downtime. Building managers can extract useful data from this integration to modify operations appropriately and realise a high return on investment.

Benefits of IoT-powered Smart Building Automation Solutions for Retail Stores

In the contemporary business world, retail is a thriving business. This is true for both shopping centres and all brick-and-mortar retail, including multi-tenant malls, where the demand for smart monitoring and product placement technology is driving investments in Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and Augmented Reality (AR). Especially the rapid use of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies in retail is being driven by a renewed focus on providing customers with an excellent in-store experience. 

Forbes reports that the IoT market in the retail sector is expanding by more than 18% annually, and Ericsson predicts that by 2023, there will be 3.5 billion cellular IoT connections, growing at a CAGR of 30%. IoT is reducing operating costs and delivering actionable insights that result in higher profits across a variety of corporate functions, from inventory management to HVAC control.

Typically sensors and software used in smart building technology automate processes to regulate a variety of vital building services in retail sectors, such as lighting, security, HVAC, asset management, and much more.

In the ecosystem of a smart building, sensors, memory chips, and controllers gather data and set off particular actions based on that data. Systems can monitor changes inside the structure and alter the temperature and lighting accordingly, saving energy, and money and maximising the time and focus usually devoted to such tasks.

The biggest factor behind smart building technologies is IoT. Building managers and owners have a wide range of options that can be adapted to their unique needs as more focused solutions hit the market. In fact, any structure has the potential to be a smart building. While smart building technology is mostly used in new construction, legacy properties can still profit from IoT by strategically installing self-powered sensors and sensor systems. New solutions are simply incorporated and executed in accordance with business needs after a platform has been built.

Impact of Building Automation Solutions in the Retail Sector

Retail operations are significant IoT adopters as part of the ongoing attempt to entice customers and drive them into physical stores. Among the technologies that are revolutionising retail are smart beacons, shelf sensors, RFID tags, and cashless/cardless check-out. The majority of the biggest merchants have already jumped. For instance, the US retailer Walmart uses IoT sensors in 5,000 of its shops to control refrigeration and identify food spoilage. More than 60% of retailers, according to IDC Retail Insights, have already set up an IoT infrastructure. Within the next 18 months, another 85% intend to introduce IoT solutions, indicating a considerable move toward data-driven governance.

The advantages of IoT and smart building technologies for the retail industry span almost all facets of business governance activities, including building management. It makes it easier for store staff to perform daily chores, including preserving a comfortable environment, protecting entryways, and interacting with consumers. Through predictive monitoring and analysis, it helps store and building managers make better use of resources, increase building efficiency, and save maintenance expenses. IoT streamlines and automates company procedures, cutting down on errors and supplying vital information that may be used to make quick business choices. But, like any successful endeavour, it all begins with a strong foundation.

Building automation systems lay a strong IoT foundation that can later be connected to any device via Bluetooth. They are extremely scalable and cost-effective systems. The ability to monitor and automate devices like smoke alarms, water metres, HVAC systems, personnel tracking systems, security systems, and more will enhance operations throughout. Building automation systems do much more than only provide emergency illumination. Moreover, they offer an affordable and scalable foundation from which to create an IoT network that can make your retail operation more successful, profitable, and appealing to your devoted customers.

Five crucial ways in which IoT-based BAS is Reshaping the Retail Sector

Hassle-free Facility Operations

IoT sensors that run on batteries are low-cost, self-contained, and simple to set up and maintain. They can be installed everywhere over the retail facility and used in conjunction with reliable, scalable, and low-power IoT connectivity to gather in-depth insights into a variety of functions and distributed assets. Utilising open interfaces, sensor data can be combined at the IoT gateway(s) and then sent to the appropriate BMS server (e.g. MQTT, REST API). This makes it possible for pertinent workflows, such as alert triggers, maintenance schedules, or alert activation or shutdown, to be executed automatically.

Efficient Utility Savings to Lower Costs 

The main driver of BMS adoption in the retail sector has been energy efficiency, and IoT technology could assist you in doing precisely that. Up until recently, the regulation of HVAC systems was frequently uniform and predetermined, which resulted in issues like overheating or underheating throughout the building. In this situation, on-demand, micro-zoned equipment control is made possible by real-time, granular IoT sensor inputs in order to increase energy efficiency.

360-degree Retail facility management

It is evident that the advantages of an IoT for intelligent building automation go far beyond conventional features like HVAC and lighting control. Building owners are given unmatched visibility into all aspects of their property operations thanks to wireless sensors, including building health, equipment condition, resource conservation, and security and fire safety.

Enhanced Tenant/Occupant Satisfaction and Well-Being

Owners of facilities are aware of how crucial customer connections are. Modern clients have higher expectations as a result of the increased prevalence of smart homes and smart building technologies. The key performance indicator for occupant comfort used to be indoor temperatures, but this is no longer the case. The optimal environment conditions for inhabitants’ well-being and productivity increasingly take into account factors including air quality, illumination, and humidity. In this context, wireless IoT sensors are effective tools to support the upkeep of a healthy and ideal interior environment.

New Possibilities for Generating Revenue

Massive IoT data is making it possible for retail property owners to consider new data-driven revenue sources. There are several perspectives you may share with tenants to assist them in making better decisions. For instance, it’s likely that your customers would like to comprehend how they use their premises and utilities. By doing so, they can identify inefficiencies, make their subsequent lease decision better, and optimise office layouts to take into account changing worker trends. Retailer tenants can improve their services during peak hours thanks to knowledge about floor circulation analytics. These are just a few instances of the variety of service innovative solutions that property owners can take advantage of by leveraging IoT data.

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The time when your BMS could only turn on and off the heater based on pre-established regulations is pretty much gone. The advancement of BMS features by IoT technology today opens up new possibilities for energy savings, facility management, tenant experiences, and service innovation. All of them are upgraded without difficulty using low-cost sensors and cutting-edge IoT connectivity. Without a doubt, the use of IoT-based BAS in retail will grow more as we approach 2023. Retailers are becoming aware of how IoT may boost building operations and promote business success by addressing indoor air quality, occupants' comfort, productivity, and operational efficiency. It's critical that organisations embrace the concept of IoT technology and begin making preparations for implementation. Despite the fact that IoT is a very dynamic process, a company may develop an IoT-based intelligent buildings strategy with the help of an experienced team, an efficient BAS, a reliable implementation method, and flexibility. To fully utilise IoT, retailers must also precisely identify risks, create workarounds for obstacles, and implement the strategy with a laser-like focus.

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