4 Reasons E-Commerce Companies Should Utilize IoT Tech
Coined in 1999 by Procter & Gamble employee Kevin Ashton, the phrase “Internet of Things” (IoT) describes the growing interconnectivity of technology and everyday experiences. Consumers are now interacting with everything from appliances to grocery store shelf tags via mobile devices and wireless signals.
Both e-commerce retailers and brick-and-mortar stores are beginning to take advantage of this revolution in how people shop. The use of IoT technology has the potential to increase median revenue from between $200 and $350 to $1000 to $2000 monthly, and although only about 19 percent of IoT developers are working on retail models, there are already many ways your company can benefit from joining this growing trend without being a developer.
For example, even selecting the right content management system might put you ahead of the game. Themes from Shopify and WordPress allow for triggers to be put in place via tools like Zapier. But how about nontriggered solutions? Maybe the following ideas can shed some light on how you can implement other solutions into your store.
Managing a thriving e-commerce business in tandem with one or more physical locations can lead to problems with inventory tracking and restocking. Human error may result in certain items not being reordered in time or popular products disappearing from shelves before new orders come in.
The advent of “smart shelves” can minimize or eliminate mistakes with inventory and the associated dissatisfaction consumers experience when their favorite products are out of stock. This innovative piece of IoT technology keeps track of how many items have been sold and can place automatic orders to replenish key items at just the right time.
When paired with inventory management for the warehouses fulfilling online orders, smart shelves improve accuracy and decrease loss while preserving your company’s reputation for reliability.
Before IoT started to catch on, outpricing the competition meant constantly monitoring their promotions and marketing tactics, developing counter-campaigns and using every tactic in your arsenal to draw attention to your brand as the better choice. Businesses now have the option to skip this tedious process and beat the competition from moment to moment by using dynamic pricing models.
Instead of coming up with a future sale to outshine your competitors, dynamic pricing with IoT allows you to update the prices on your e-commerce platform and even in your brick-and-mortar stores in real time to ensure you’re always offering the best deals and providing a unified experience across platforms. Dynamic pricing can also communicate greater value by responding to demand and setting prices to reflect what consumers are willing to pay for the perceived worth of a product or service.
Flexibility in pricing also extends to the individual customer experience. Today’s IoT technologies include “smart” shelf tags, also called “e-tags,” installed in stores to provide targeted promotions to customers based on their past buying habits. Using data regarding what a customer has purchased both in-store and online, these tags use location-based signals to light up and attract attention to items the individual is most likely to want to buy.
Your business can use “smart” technology to deliver special promotions via push notifications. Purchases from those customers — both in-store and online — can be more easily tracked. With a clearer picture of customer behavior, it’s easier than ever to deliver the smooth omnichannel experience consumers desire.
Some products, especially large appliances, require routine maintenance for optimal operation. Unfortunately, consumers often forget to schedule maintenance appointments or don’t read all the fine print included in warranties. This leads to frantic last-minute repair calls and frustration with coverage running out just before something breaks.
Appliances with IoT technology monitor performance and send data back to the manufacturer or to your service department to signal when maintenance is needed. You no longer have to send technicians out on scheduled maintenance calls just to see if anything needs to be fixed. This saves your business time and makes maintenance more intuitive and convenient for customers. Maintenance on an as-needed basis also ensures appliances continue to run smoothly and don’t suffer problems leading to breakdowns outside the warranty period.
Companies are beginning to see the benefit of harnessing IoT to improve the customer experience and easily fulfill everyday needs. One example is HP’s “Instant Ink” program, included with new models of its inkjet printers. Users can choose to join while setting up a printer, picking a plan based on how many pages they print per month. “Smart” cartridges in the printer sense when ink is running low and prompt an automatic order for the proper replacement. The service now has over 500,000 subscribers, a number demonstrating the popularity of such convenient, time-saving options.
Volvo is also getting in on the IoT action with Sensus Connect, a digital in-car system controlled by a screen similar to a tablet. Drivers can operate the console by touch, with steering wheel thumb controls, or through voice commands. A heads-up display provides a safe way to keep track of alerts or messages. Cloud-based applications and smartphone integration make it possible to find local attractions, send directions to the navigation system, control car temperature and more using the car controls or a mobile device.
Connectivity between consumers, products and brands is only going to expand as time goes on. Getting in on IoT technology now sets your business up for better communication with and service to customers in the future. Reaching customers where they are on the continuum of IoT lets you tap into this powerful potential for profitability and grow your business as the wave of the future becomes an everyday reality.
Jared Carrizales leads the team at Heroic Search, a company that handles content marketing, social advertising and digital public relations.
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