The advent of Internet of Things (IoT) devices has brought with it a corresponding shift in the ecommerce space as consumer lifestyles keep changing and becoming more adaptive.
Similarly, the increasing rate at which online shoppers have adopted the internet has seen ecommerce grow steadily, and is expected to be the future of retail as most of the growth is happening in the digital space.
In 2016 alone, according to Statista, global sales for retail ecommerce were recorded at a whopping $1.85 trillion and are expected by 2021 to reach $4.88 trillion.
Retailers are also readying themselves to adopt IoT in a bid to improve the experiences of consumers across the world. This just goes to show that both ecommerce and retail sectors need to stay on top of trends in the digital marketing space to stay profitable and competitive.
But just how is ecommerce set to gain immensely from IoT? What changes are taking place or being adopted today, and how does this change ecommerce? Will ecommerce businesses be able to make an impact to their operations and tap potential consumers?
Here are some of the most promising ways in which ecommerce can gain from IoT.
1. Better tracking and logistics
With IoT, retailers get greater visibility over the process of order fulfillment, so they can meet the demands of consumers who shop more online.
IoT technology offers ecommerce retailers the benefit of tracking customer orders from the moment they’re placed to the second they reach the customer’s doorstep.
Retailers can now track each piece of inventory via management systems such that they automatically locate the goods regardless of where they are.
Cloud based technologies such as GPS and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) also offer retailers data such as traffic status, weather, location, and personnel identities, making logistics management more efficient.
It also helps automate shipping and delivery to eliminate issues of missing shipments, while optimizing vehicle routes.
2. Automated management of inventory
Ecommerce retailers like having control over the items going out and coming in of their warehouses to know what is in and out of stock.
With such tools as IoT sensors and RFID tags installed in inventory systems, business operations can be much easier, plus retailers need not hire store managers to physically check merchandise as they get real time information on their stock.
In this way, IoT benefits ecommerce as it collects and sends out fresh and relevant data on the items to the ERP systems.
It also reduces human error in stock taking and ordering/reordering of items.
Additionally, with smart shelves and temperature-monitoring sensors, retailers can not only track inventory, but also check optimal temperatures for items that are perishable and get instant alerts when they’re needed.
3. Enhances relationships between manufacturers and end consumers
IoT ensures that a good relationship is established through the connected appliances such that the durable goods manufacturers and customers enjoy a long-term relationship.
For example, manufacturers of printers can offer cartridge replacements from the printers themselves.
In this way, the brand remains in the minds of the consumers over the product’s lifetime.
Similarly, IoT can provide fresh revenue streams for retailers by creating new business models like offering ongoing services such as predictive maintenance, remote monitoring, and performance analytics for specific products.
4. Personalized information and actions
IoT also brings together personal data and that of brands to deliver more personalized experiences.
In this way, ecommerce retailers can leverage the consumer’s connections to offer more personalized information and actions, while interweaving data to personalize their experiences further to households and each member.
A good example is where there’s a connected car, the driver gets to receive offers tailored to him/her. Alternatively, a family with a smart fridge can receive experiences tailored to their preferences.
As marketers gain access to more data and insight into consumer behavior, they can use it to appeal more to their customers and influence their shopping decisions on the customer journey.
5. IoT-oriented ecommerce websites
The online shopping trend has increased and with it comes the pressure on retailers to ensure the user experience is made easy.
With IoT, retailers have to figure out how to use the data that comes in from different sources and devices, being responsive not just to smart devices like phones or iPads, but to other objects that are connected.
Thus, retailers can create responsive websites that make the most out of IoT to enhance the user experience online.
6. Automated shopping processes
With IoT, automated checkouts are now becoming a reality, like what Amazon Go is introducing.
This means the buying process becomes automated so customers walk in, buy, and walk out with the cost billed to their smartphones.
Additionally, in the future, predictive systems will know when customers are ready to go shopping and pack the products ready for them to pick up based on their shopping lists.
Once they send the details of the products they want to purchase to vending machines, all they do is pick up from the drive through and they’re good to go.
What to consider before applying IoT to your ecommerce business
Before you apply IoT technology to your ecommerce business, you need to employ particular strategies that will ensure improved satisfaction and experiences for your customers.
● Selecting platforms suited to your needs
● Partnering with other firms to get the desired customer data to improve marketing. Role of AI applications can add to data analysis and how you chase potential customers.
● Providing proper security measures for customers to avoid legal troubles
● Clear communication with customers on their data and information plus how you will use it.
As much as there’s growth in ecommerce owing to the emergence of IoT technologies, there are definitely some challenges that come with it, but these six opportunities make it worth the while.
Ecommerce players need to keep in mind that the IoT ecosystem is fundamentally about internet-connected things.
Therefore, ecommerce enabled by IoT is less of a revolution, and more of an evolution. Ultimately, the potential of IoT technology will significantly enhance ecommerce as more devices gain smart features and get connected.