11/05/2013 02:06 pm ET

How We Shop: Internet of Things, Big Data, Social and Mobile Changes Everything

The Internet of Things is a hot topic again and it's opening up huge possibilities for retailers.

For years, retailers have sought to improve their understanding of the almost mythical 'path to purchase'. Many will remember Paco Underhill's Why We Buy - The Science of Shopping from 1999 that showed them how "hard data gleaned from thousands of hours of field research-in shopping malls, department stores and supermarkets across America could help retailers understand shopper behavior and improve the bottom line."

Fast forward to our world of social media, big data, IoT and mobile and it's heady times, indeed. Big data can now give retailers a precise, factual understanding of how shoppers move around their stores. Smart retailers have optimized store layouts, fixtures, staffing, and product offerings based on what they learned.

As retailers continue to understand that shoppers incorporate social media commentary and photos into their purchasing decisions and expect to see more sophisticated screens in stores and the portability of retail experience from store to online through smartphones and tablets. Great opportunity for analytics capture also!

Beverly Macy is the host of Social Media Radio and the co-Author of The Power of Real-Time Social Media Marketing.