New data from Juniper Research ( has found that retailers will connect 12.5 billion business assets, such as products, digital signs and Bluetooth beacons, to IoT platforms by 2021. This figure is expected to rise from 2.7 billion in 2016, representing a 350% increase, according to the research group.

Juniper predicts that RFID (radio-frequency identification), will re-emerge as the industry’s “killer app,” becoming the key factor in the IoT retail ecosystem. RFID tags, used to identify and locate retail assets in real-time, are now at a low enough price point for mass deployment and integrate well with new IoT systems and analytics. New services, such as dynamic pricing or enabling promotional offers via in-store digital signs are also poised for growth.

Juniper’s latest research argues that “next-gen” processes, such as personalized retail, could be achieved by integrating enterprise software and emerging technologies, with data from connected IoT assets. Juniper forecasts that software spend for enterprise resource planning systems to integrate this data would reach $11.3 billion annually in 2021, from $1.5 billion in 2017.

“Innovative retailers such as Rebecca Minkoff have combined RFID with smart mirrors” explained research author Steffen Sorrell. “Integrating these systems allows real-time information to improve the store experience and bridge physical and virtual worlds – in this case, the concept drove a 200% increase in sales.”

Juniper advises that each retailers’ approach to the IoT should differ depending on their main channel focus. It argued that physical retail spaces still have many benefits, not least in terms of being able to avoid the sterility of online shopping. Therefore, Juniper predicted that online retailers’ focus would be on technologies such as machine learning to provide digital assistance, or digital performance management. In this latter instance, measurements such as user experience, IT performance and business outcome are analysed holistically to determine necessary improvements.