July 29, 2016
Rapid technological advances have proliferated today’s world in each and every sector. The Internet of Things (IoT) is one such revolutionary technology which has touched a variety of sectors and millions of lives through its astounding simplicity and efficiency.
While many areas of impact will emerge in the near future, one of the major arenas where the Internet of Things is having a definite influence is the retail and ecommerce sector. This technology is radically changing the way shoppers shop. It has transformed the traditional shopping approach into a more streamlined, methodical and user-friendly experience.
The explosion of connected devices combined with enriched, less-expensive technology, ecommerce platforms and adoption of common standards will only intensify the growth of IoT-enabled capabilities across the retail industry. Retail and ecommerce businesses will accrue a number of benefits by adopting this revolutionary technology, which is now helping the traditional businesses grow leaps and bounds in a short span of time.
Let’s now take a look at some of the major advantages that IoT technological advancements are providing the modern ecommerce and retail sectors.
Enhances Overall Customer Experience
Internet of Things is enabling retailers to provide a more holistic shopping experience to customers, which is leading to high levels of customer engagement. Personalized and contextualized interactions with customers provide solutions to their anticipated needs and strengthen customer relationship management from the retailer’s end.
Retailers can also sell targeted merchandise based on previous shopping and buying patterns revealed through loyalty programs, online browsing and search trends. A number of radical IoT related technology platforms are helping retailers capitalize and focus on the needs of the customers. Bluetooth beacons, when paired with retailer’s shopping applications on customer’s smartphones, help to decipher how shopper’s move across the store. Instead of common mass messages, a smart retail environment will ensure shopper’s get deeper information for what they are looking for, solve individual queries and positively influence buying decisions.
The IoT technologies provide actionable insight to retailers about a consumer’s shopping needs and hence, largely enable them to provide a thrust which leads to consumer delight and satisfaction.
Differentiate to Provide Value to Customers
The Internet of Things is a technology which utilizes vast amount of real-time information to provide value to customers. In today’s competitive retail market scenario, the amount of aggregate customer data a retailer possesses is a leading indicator of its brand equity in the market.
Retail stores are using this valuable data to indulge in number of customer engagement tactics which include provision of timely after sales service, maintenance and long term warranties.
IoT technological advances also help retail businesses differentiate themselves in the eyes of the customer by providing them with unique selling propositions. For example, retail giant Walmart uses IoT technology to mine social media data to find out what types of products are increasing in popularity. Disney Parks also have jumped on the IoT bandwagon by providing customers with RFID-enabled Magic Band wristbands. These wristbands have multiple functions and allow customers access to Disney theme parks and hotels, card free payment of merchandise and other special privileges.
Hence, we see that IoT technologies today are helping retail businesses innovate on their product offerings and dramatically enhance the value provided to customers.
Streamline eCommerce Logistics
Seamless and uninterrupted supply chain management is a crucial factor to the success of any retail business. IoT technology plays a huge role in ensuring the continual and smooth flow of goods from one place to another. The application of technology can help in the constant tracking of goods from their journey of production to consumption.
High level global positioning system (GPS) and radio frequency identification (RFID) techniques help to identify a product which is in transit and provide exact data about its location , temperature etc. A customer can be provided accurate delivery information after a retailer tracks the traffic conditions, road blocks and average speed of transporter.
IoT technology helps ecommerce merchants optimize their inventory and prevents over-stocking or shortage of products in warehouses. Smart systems provide valuable information to ecommerce retailers such as what’s under-performing and overstocked, what products are running out of stock, environmental conditions, online trending and countless other potential variables that impact sales output. IoT also helps in increasing fuel efficiency by monitoring traffic conditions, which largely helps environmental concerns of the society too.
The Internet of Things is slowly establishing an important identity for itself in modern businesses, which are now dependent on this technology for a multitude of reasons. It is helping retailers to increase revenue by managing inventory, tracking thefts and loss, enhancing shopper intelligence, and enabling mobile payments. The ubiquitous nature of the internet and decreasing cost of components such as sensors, microchips and actuators is providing further thrust to the IoT technology. We can surely expect the retail sector to flourish in the coming years owing to the increasing usage of mobile applications and penetration of IoT in all functions of ecommerce operations.
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