If we could go back to probably 2009 or earlier, we’ll may be able to identify the major disruptions eCommerce and retail industry has undergone. The amalgamation of eCommerce and IoT has been fundamentally revolutionizing how consumers shop.
IoT has been expanding its base at a terrific pace. The industrial sector has been a major arena to bear the impact of this. With over 45% of the businesses in the sector using IoT products, the technology has proven itself an undisputed king of revolution.
According to Cisco’s annual Visual networking index, machine-to-machine interactions supporting the IoT applications are estimated to account for half of the world’s connected devices by the year 2022. The trend is evident to cause major reverberations in more industries and niches, not to forget eCommerce here.
Retail eCommerce has been enjoying a steel and healthy growth curve over the past 10 years. Statista foresees that the global eCommerce sales with inch up to a mark of $5 trillion in the year 2021.
As both the massive forces combine, the big change is knocking at the door. Let’s explore some of the ways the change has been impacting our lives.
#1. Personalized customer/shopping experience
Ever realized that as soon as you shoot up a search for finding best dresses online, your social media feed is filled up with lots and lots of ads for the same?
Let’s take up another example to understand the same. Shoot up to find a great pair of pants for yourself, and by the time you land up on the checkout page, you’ll already have things to go with it. You may have suggestions for shirts to go along, or probably a pair of shoes to match with it.
This is the Internet of Things and eCommerce blend for you. Shopping is no more limited to buying products or services. In most of the cases, it has associated with it repetitious experimental elements involved. Shoppers love the process and feel satisfied when they can equate the same with positive experiences.
IoT has been an amazing factor driving the force. eCommerce stores leverage the technology to garner data from various locations and then analyze the robust data sets to offer the ease of personalization. Users can now access features like localized offers, custom product recommendations, personalized checkout experience and a lot more that reduces the friction while promoting efficiency.
But that’s not where it is limited to. It also enables the users to relish amazing discounts and offers tailored to what they have been looking to buy online. Businesses are constantly working to gather data and reward their customers while building a strong loyalist base for themselves. This also enables them with opportunities in terms of repeated purchases.
#2. Voice search
Voice search is not limited to SEO. They extend far beyond that. Rather, voice shopping is expected to increase up to $40 billion annually by the year 2022- a 20-fold increase. To support this, we also have trends that clearly showcase,
- 41% of the adults now use voice search daily.
- Voice search is highly valued by the affluent, well-educated consumers.
- And last but not least, half of the voice-controlled device owners have shopped at least once in the last year.
Clearly, voice search has proven itself as the next big thing in the eCommerce industry. And the increasing usage of mobile devices has only supported the trend. Retailers are now striving to offer high-end customer experience on mobile powered by voice search. Users can now shop for the required products while enjoying an experience that is quick, rewarding, convenient, and of course, fun.
#3. Better Cybersecurity
IoT has multiple benefits to offer, but the threat to security has often been a difficult aspect of the technology. With more number of connected devices comes the huge challenge called cybersecurity. And given a huge amount of critical information on the eCommerce servers, the aspect becomes all the more important. Lack of proper protocols in place, online retailers also put themselves and customers at the risk for fraud payment. This does not only take into account hacking but also acceptance of fraudulent payments at the cost of having to refund the charges. Outside the financial issues, data breaches also take a toll on the brand’s reputation and can cause even the most loyal customers to leave.
This requires the brands to invest in the right tools to minimize fraud and instill trust within the customer base. After all, playing with the security of data like login credentials, and most importantly, the bank and location details can land you up into big legal issues. And who would want that?
But with advanced security options strongly backed up IoT security standards, eCommerce retailers can offer the users with a sigh of relief. eCommerce websites not come loaded with multi-layer security options that enable that to minimize the cybersecurity issues. Moreover, the transactions are constantly monitored at various levels to ensure those suspicious activities are flagged well-in-time.
The entire implementation ensures that shoppers relish a great experience without having to worry about data security.
#4. Smart Shelves
Speaking of automated checkout, physical retailers and brick and mortar stores will become more aware of smart shelving technology in the coming months.
Smart shelves are fitted with RFID tags that act as weight sensors and readers. They can sense products and detect when items are removed from shelves and placed in a shopping cart or basket. Not only does this allow for swift and cost-effective shopping experiences, but it can also cut down on in-store theft, enhance inventory strategies, and help businesses track what’s happening in their stores.
Smart shelves also serve as retail data engines. They provide retailers with an extensive range of data that’s traditionally been unavailable to brands. And with AI predictive optimization, some of the best smart shelves are even able to predict peak times and encourage proper restocking.
Beacon technology is closely related to automated checkout, smart shelves, and personalized shopping. First brought into the marketplace by Apple in 2013, beacons are tiny Bluetooth devices that send notifications and alerts to smartphones based on location proximity.
In a retail setting, beacons can be used to identify when certain shoppers are nearby – either in the store or down the street – and send notifications about events or sales. Beacons also provide insightful data on store traffic, customer loyalty, and other important elements.
#6. Demand-aware Warehousing
Being able to track inventory in the store and on an eCommerce website is only helpful if there’s a backend solution to provide optimized inventory levels. Thankfully, the IoT is having an impact in this area, as well.
Demand-aware warehouse fulfillment is the next big thing. This warehousing strategy uses automation and robotics to monitor inventory levels and real-time sales opportunities. Based on the data, it can send inventory, hold inventory, and send better-organized shipments (making it easier to unload and stock shelves at the receiving end).
#7. Improvements in Maintenance and Warranties
When selling technical or complicated products, maintenance and warranties are always major concerns. If a retailer isn’t careful, they can end up with huge costs and lots of wasted time on customer service and repairs.
The IoT is a helpful assistant in this fight. General Electric is a perfect example of this. They actually gather data from the products and devices they sell. In doing so, they can remotely perform advanced diagnostics, remind customers about upcoming scheduled maintenance, and walk customers through basic repairs without ever touching the product.
As a result of easier and more cost-effective maintenance, some companies will be able to dramatically improve their warranties and offer unique selling points that their competitors are unable to tap into. It’s an especially valuable opportunity for businesses in highly technical industries.