As M2M technology advances, and more individuals and businesses are realising the potential of what it can do for them, it’s beginning to truly fulfil its potential.

IoT will become much more widespread, with a recent study, ‘The Internet of Things: Today and Tomorrow’, showing that 85% of businesses intend to implement IoT by 2019[1]. One industry in particular where it’s expected to have a significant impact is retail, where it’s predicted that by 2020, the number of installed cellular devices in the IoT will surge to 49.2 million, up from 33.7 million in 2016[2], that’s a 46% increase in just four years.

To keep business processes sleek and to meet the demands of modern consumers, businesses need to implement new technologies, aiding them in improving their business processes, and like many, the retail sector is evolving. M2M has vast potential in the retail industry, helping to enhance the experience of consumers by facilitating card payments, connections of instore tablets, or services such as checking parking space availability.

M2M is also a valuable tool for supply chain development, enabling innovations which could make the process smoother and faster such as automatically alerting suppliers when existing stock is running low or tracking, quickly and easily letting retailers know what products need to be restocked and where.

Perhaps the most valuable use of M2M for retailers however, is using it to get closer to their customers. M2M can collect various information which retailers can use to better understand their customer’s habits and behaviours. M2M can collect data which allows retailers to manage their business more efficiently, target consumers more scientifically, and ultimately make the retail experience better for consumers, in this incredibly competitive environment.

The growth of M2M has largely been fuelled by the need for innovation and efficiency within businesses, but to get the most from it, we need to know how to use it. Information obtained through M2M is only truly valuable if it is used meaningfully to benefit the business by using it to inform decision making. M2M however, can only be implemented widely if the UK’s connectivity is reliable and extensive enough to support the necessary connections, which unfortunately is not very promising when we consider that the UK population only receives 4G connectivity 53% of the time[3].

M2M could transform retail entirely, allowing businesses to develop sleeker processes and to make informed strategic decisions, but also making the experience easier, more convenient and more enjoyable for consumers. For all of this to be possible for UK businesses, we need mobile coverage which can support these connections. Before M2M truly takes off, this is an obstacle which needs to be overcome.