Internet of Things (IoT) is a term which was coined in the year 1999 by Kevin Ashton, a UK based entrepreneur. And as we all know, it refers to the physical devices that work and process information by using internet. Internet of Things is used for Smart Home automation,enhancing security systems, bringing effective treatments to healthcare industry and for many other purposes. With the popularity of online shopping on the rise, business owners are also keen to employ IoT to their ecommerce solutions and attract more customers.
So how is Internet of Things contributing to the ecommerce industry? What changes are being adopted now and how will it change the future of ecommerce? Mentioned below are some of the ways in which IoT is transforming ecommerce.
Smart inventory management
Online shop owners like to have a control over the data of items that go out of the warehouse and the ones that are added to the stock. RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags or IoT sensors when installed in the systems can help ease such business operations. Real time inventory management means that the store owners do not need to hire people to keep a physical check on the outgoing and incoming merchandise. It also gathers and sends relevant and fresh data of the items to their ERP systems. Sounds easy, doesn’t it?
Smart Logistics management
GPS and RFID are cloud based technologies that provide the online store owners with data like identity of the personnel involved, traffic conditions, location, weather etc. This makes Logistics Management a lot more efficient. It can also help automate the shipping and delivery processes so there are no problems related to missing shipments. Apart from these features, one can also supervise features like speed of the vehicle and temperature. Needless to say, smooth delivery process brings a lot of customer satisfaction as the vehicle routes are optimized.
IoT oriented websites
There’s no denying that user experience is of utmost importance. However, as and when IoT takes over, the business owners will have to think as to how the data can be processed from different sources. They will have to be responsive not just to mobiles and ipads but also to other objects that run on this technology. As major telecom companies are making the most out of Internet of Things, it will also affect the ways in which responsive websites are designed.
With Amazon Go introducing automatic checkouts, buying processes have become automated. One can just walk in, purchase and walk out with the amount billed to their mobile phones. Future will witness predictive systems that know when the customers leave for shopping and the products will get packed ready to be picked up based on the list they send to the vending machines. Fancy a sandwich? Send the details about the ingredients directly to the vending machine and collect it from the drive through while leaving for work. This concept will be adopted by several popular food chains.
Enhancing customer experience
Estore owners already collect the data by analyzing social media pages and forums as it helps them to understand the needs of their clients. Through IoT, online retailers will be able to do two things in order to personalize customer experience. One, come up with offers according to the choice of the customers; and two, provide the offers and delivery according to customized or preferred timings. Also, it is quite difficult for the retailers to track warranty periods of different products allocated to different customers. When IoT updates information like warranty period and purchase date, they can set up system notifications and send warranty extension offers through email. They will help to track the validity of Annual Maintenance Contracts with customers. IoT enabled devices can identify and report issues before the consumers notice them. This means the store owners can know about potential problems on time and take care of them.
However, not everything is hunky-dory with Internet of Things technology. It does have certain limitations and drawbacks which need to be taken care of. Below given are some of its disadvantages:
The Drawback of IoT
As IoT devices are taking over the market, security is becoming one of the major concerns. Not all devices have robust and secure coding. This is when things can go wrong. Especially when such devices are created in a rush just to boost sales, they are quite likely to have a poor security system. Security breaches can be a good opportunity for cyber criminals as they can easily hack consumer ready items. If such devices get hacked, they can provide the hackers with information of whereabouts of the person who is using them. This can invite a lot of jeopardy.
Things to Keep in Mind before You Apply IoT Technology to your Ecommerce Business
Online retailers can follow certain strategies before applying Internet of Things to their ecommerce business. Employing such strategies can bring in improved customer satisfaction and better experience:
- There are more than 200 IoT platforms available in the market. Make sure you select the platform suited to your products wisely.
- As Internet of Things is a huge eco system, you can partner with other firms to get the customer data you want and improve your marketing strategies.
- In future, there will be laws pertaining to the security of IoT devices. In order to avoid getting into legal troubles, make sure you provide proper security measures for the customers.
- Be clear with your customers about their information and data and how you will be using it. This will create a good impression of your brand.
E-commerce has put the marketplace on people’s fingertips. And Internet of things is expanding its roots. But as and when it grows, both consumers and retailers will be able to experience better and convenient transactions. Wait and watch, as it creates new challenges, opportunities and ways to expand the marketplace for different ecommerce ventures!