IoT is strengthening nearly every field. The concept has narrowed gaps between the physical and virtual worlds by many manifolds.
In fact, IoT has evolved as one of the best answers to most hindrances of the past, especially while taking the Internet closer to real-life entities. IoT technology has helped connect machines to software tools and more to streamline entire workflows with ease.
The market couldn’t remain unaffected by this highly promising technology. As per Juniper research explains, the retail world will be spending around $2.5billion on IoT by 2020.
E-commerce is already benefiting IoT in a lot of ways. E-commerce giants like Amazon and Walmart have been utilizing the technology to automate most of their work, thus helping them wipe out losses due to human error. Flipkart is next in the race to introduce IoT for managing its sorting centers across the globe. In the meantime, Alibaba is offering virtual trial rooms at its West Lake Intime Mall located in Hangzhou City. The users can try on their accessories without actually putting them on.
Benefits for the E-Commerce Owners
We have jotted down a few functions of how IoT has made like easier for e-commerce owners in particular. IoT allows low power consuming devices to connect via a continuous loop of bi-directional messages to open communication and share vital information amongst each other. Multiple devices are connected via a central system that keeps them leading towards the common goal.
As an owner, you can expect a well synchronized virtual team working at your place faultlessly and without troubling you.
Inventory Management Made Easy
IoT sensors and the RFID tags keep a check on products and their components. With smart tags being attached to every product, IoT-based technologies help to manage inventory with ease. Tags help fetch availability of the inventory, expiration dates, and much more regarding the concerned product.
They help with monitoring and tracking inventory by tracking the sold items from the stock to make it easier for the owner. Lastly, IoT-empowered applications alert owners of limited stocks, thus preparing them for further orders.
Managing the Warehouse Better
IoT has particularly benefited FMCG-based e-commerce owners. The temperature-monitoring sensors are used to check the optimum temperature of the products and can send an alert at the time of need. IoT sensors and RFID tags make it possible to keep a check on the quality of the product without any human intervention.
Brands like Lids have taken this a bit farther. They have replaced manual picking and packaging of products with IoT-enabled robots that implement perfection and swiftness at work. Amazon also introduced an “IoT Button” that allows you to connect multiple devices and get your job done with a single touch.
The owners can have an overview of average sales their products achieve with the IoT-based apps. It can help them to analyze and rearrange the priority list. The best sellers can be placed at the shopfront while the rest can be arranged as per the market demand.
Supply Chain Management Streamlined
The e-commerce business is all about managing the supplies. Automating tasks not only minimizes human-error but also boosts the overall process.
With IoT making its place in the supply chain industry, the transportation of goods has become a lot better and improved tracking abilities. Additionally, RFID and GPS technologies make sure that goods are transferred smoothly to the destinations. They keep a check on every transit, giving complete information about the location, temperature, and conveyance details. Here is an example of a logistics-based company managing the delivery.:
Image Source: 42gears
Advanced IoT apps help to predict arrival time, thus saving customers from losing the delivery. The apps also allow customers to monitor the transitions in real-time with detail. The technology keeps a check on the product quality from the production stage until the time it gets delivered to the end users with real-time monitoring of the entire flow, offering a great experience for the customers as well.
Above all, e-commerce giants like Amazon are on the verge of mainstreaming unmanned aerial vehicles/drones to deliver products that easily eradicate road traffic as a constraint. IoT-based drones can deliver products with precision and also comparatively quicker than conventional means. The initial tests have been satisfactory and we can find packaged products flying around sooner.
Unerring Up-Sell and Cross-Sell Strategies
IoT has definitely improved the way we search and how the other side responds. It is smart enough to collect information from millions of devices connected together. IoT-based systems utilize the PCs, laptops, smart TVs, voice-based virtual assistants, cellphones, and everything in between that gives them access to e-commerce websites to find a pattern of searches with corresponding steps. It helps e-commerce owners predict basic human behavior and thus implement a more effective strategy for cross-sells and upsells. For example, Amazon recommends a Screen Guard and a phone case along with an iPhone.
Enhanced Customer Experience
IoT has been equally effective for customers. With reduced human errors at every progressing stage, the customer is reassured with quality product and service. Moreover, IoT-themed processes offer quicker service to end customers, making them feel more valued.
IoT apps have dramatically affected customers’ choices and expectations. The owners have extended their responsibilities from mere collecting-and-selling to listening-modifying-and-delivering.
Almost every popular e-commerce provider is now offering product personalization.
As per Deloitte, 36 percent of consumers prefer to purchase personalized services or products, while 48 percent of consumers said that they can willingly wait longer to receive their customized products.
The users can now ask the owner to customize their products even before buying. IoT-themed apps offer options to change the color and design of the products. The user can add customized logos and texts wherever needed. Amazingly, even MiniCooper offers personalization that defines the power of IoT in the current market.
While the customers can have the product of their choice, the owners too are saved from storing heavy stocks. Instead of expanding their inventory, the owners can look forward to making the best use of their existing stock.
E-commerce owners across the globe can offer personalization to their customers to generate more revenue over the same time. E-commerce platforms have shown serious potential by allowing integrable applications.
Enticing the Retail Shoppers Towards E-Commerce
According to Smartinsights, 56 percent of shoppers prefer offline shopping over e-commerce as they find touching and comparing the product physically much more reassuring. As an e-commerce owner, the availability for such an experience can benefit you in heaps.
Image Source: Smartinsights
The penetrating technological advances like IoT not only empower the companies but also transform the management and drive a high-end offline as well as online integration. They also boost organizational reconstruction by reshaping the business models in a consumer-oriented manner.
E-shoppers find visual data more informative than textual especially for clothes and furniture products. While the e-retailers can’t avail the feeling of touch, a visual impression is possible. A few e-commerce owners take help of Virtual Mirrors on their website to enhance the customer experience. At GlamStorm, the users can try on the desired clothes by placing them on their virtual trial room to let choose and order the best fit.
Walmart’s Virtual Room is a welcome step towards omnichannel presence, where the users can experience the desired product as in their own home. The user can navigate through different parts of the virtual room and find details about the product thereon.
The offline-online integration also boosted the way retail shoppers use their cart. QR codes and bar codes can be scanned by low-end smartphones to gather details about the product and their prices across various channels. With increased transparency and more profound research, customers can end up being loyal to the business.
Future Scope of IoT in E-Commerce
It will be unfair to say that we have even managed to explore a tenth of IoT’s possibilities. It depends on how our e-commerce giants are going to utilize it. We expect a lot from the concept, which can benefit both the ends offering more creative and frictionless experience.
Above all, the market also responds to the effects of technologies. For example, the demand for smartwatches has elevated from a mere 5 million in 2014 to 141 million in 2018 and so has the number of brands that manufacture them. Apart from the giants like Apple and Samsung, some newcomers have earned a good name by availing similar gadgets.
We can expect e-commerce to deliver more than just products in the coming years. We see a lot coming our way to make our lives easier and more efficient.