The Internet of Things, or IoT, is a hot topic.
In the broadest sense, IoT refers to the billions of devices connected to the internet that are sharing and collecting user data. They impact every sphere of our lives, and the commercial sector is one of them.
In this article, you will learn how your online retail business can benefit from using the Internet of Things.
Read more: Ecommerce News This Week 2020
Dash Buttons Shorten Buying Journeys
Amazon’s Dash Button is still a relatively new concept in the online retail industry. Customers can stick this tiny battery-operated device to any surface so they can instantly order household items they are about to run out of. The button utilizes users’ Wi-Fi networks to place orders.
Say a customer has a Gillette dash button placed in their bathroom. Once they set it up using the mobile app, all they need to do is push the button and it will automatically order their Gillette product.
This toolcaters to tech-savvy online customers that already know what product and brand they want to purchase. By allowing them to shop their desired product immediately, by clicking on a button, you will shorten their buying cycle and enhance their overall satisfaction with your brand.
Using Customer Data to Personalize User Experiences
Marketing is the backbone of your ecommerce business strategy. It allows you to stand out in the hypercompetitive market, builds trust with your target customers, and helps you increase sales. Above all, it encourages customer loyalty.
Connected devices are a treasure trove of customer information. From their voice assistants to fitness trackers, all IoT devices provide comprehensive insights into customer lifestyles, habits, needs, problems, and frustrations.
Analyzing this data helps you make data-backed decisions in the future and provide rich customer experiences in the future. Most importantly, by investing in the right CRM software, you will be able to collect customer data from multiple sources and store it in a single platform.
One such example is a call center powered by Voice over Internet Protocol technology. Once a customer calls, the VoIP software will automatically record the call and send the data to your CRM. Most importantly, online phone systems also offer call analytics features, such as customer sentiment or customer experience data. The system keeps all customer data in a central location. Your CRM system will use this data to create detailed customer profiles.
This approach will increase customer data visibility and eliminate the silos between your teams.
For example, using customer support data, your product development teams will understand customer frustrations and adapt the product to their needs. Your marketing team will stop generalizing their audiences and start creating targeted content that resonates with customers. Your customer support team will be able to assess customer satisfaction and improve their service in the future.
Voice Assistants Change the Way Customers Search
The adoption of AI voice assistants, such as Amazon Echo or Google Home, is growing at an astonishing rate. Statistics predict that 50% of customers will use voice shopping by the end of 2020. Moreover, voice commerce sales will reach $40 billion by 2022.
These technologies are changing the way your target audience is performing searches and buying products. Namely, rather than wasting time typing keywords and navigating through results, customers will simply tell their voice assistants to find products for them.
Users talk to voice assistants as if they were humans. They do not use strict and short keywords anymore. Instead, their queries are more conversational.
For example, instead of typing “weather Montgomery” into their search boxes, they will ask “What’s the weather in Montgomery?” and the voice assistant will choose an online resource that directly answers the question.
Unsurprisingly, if you want to get voice assistants to choose your content as a relevant resource, you will need to start optimizing for voice searches. That means optimizing for natural and question-based search queries. Above all, you will need to understand what questions customers ask. You’ll want to optimize your blog content, product pages, and FAQ section for voice search too, as well as providing clear answers to questions.
That way, you will have a chance to appear in Google’s featured snippets, the famous “position zero,” which generates lots of organic website traffic.
Improved Logistics and Supply Chain Management
An efficient supply chain is essential for the success of your online retail business. IoT can help make sure that your goods move from one place to another faster and it can minimize the risk of lost deliveries.
IoT boosts the overall transparency in the supply chain
With the help of GPS tools, you can now track the location of products during each stage of its journey. Location tracking technologies also help you ensure the quality of products as they travel from your manufacturing unit to its destination. By collecting location-based data via logistics technologies, you will be able to predict arrival periods. You can also manage the vehicle route in real-time.
It enhances the safety of products
One of the most significant roles of IoT in logistics is certainly its anti-theft sensors for smart fences, alarm systems, real-time asset tracking, etc. That way, it will be easier for managers to detect and prevent scams or product theft.
The focus is on information accessibility and transparency
With the advanced IoT technologies, you will be able to provide customers with real-time information about their package. Shipping details make a big difference in customer trust and satisfaction. With this technology you can provide them with the link to a dedicated page where they can check the status of their package. You could also send them real-time notifications about the state of the order.
Autonomous vehicles are a new reality of ecommerce logistics
Self-driving cars have already won many customers’ hearts. However, did you know that they play an immensely important role in your logistics strategy? Here are three things to consider:
- The industry faces a massive driver shortage. And, autonomous vehicles are going to reduce it. ith AV technologies, you can reduce road transport costs
- Self-driving trucks can work 24/7. That way, you will reduce delivery times and boost operational efficiency, without compromising anyone’s safety. Statistics show that drivers are responsible for 90% of car accidents.
Streamlining Warehouse Management
IoT can improve warehousing in multiple ways.
Using Drones for Faster Deliveries
Drones are one of the simplest and fastest ways to automate deliveries. In the ecommerce world, they play multiple roles, from improving the transport of items within the warehouse to taking care of last-mile delivery problems.
Above all, they will reduce operational costs and minimize the need for hiring new staff.
Controlling Storage Conditions
With IoT technologies, you can monitor and control ambient conditions in your warehouse. For example, temperature-monitoring sensors allow you to determine the optimum temperature for products.
That is particularly important to businesses selling perishable goods. When the temperature changes, the system will automatically send alerts to prevent damages. You can also apply these same technologies to other storage conditions, including:
- Atmospheric pressure
- Noise level
Automated Inventory Management
Managing inventory is one of the most complicated processes for any ecommerce business. While you do this process manually by entering data into spreadsheets, it eats up a lot of your employees’ time.
To prevent that, you should automate inventory management by investing in IoT sensors and RFID tags. These technologies will track your inventory items as it moves in real-time. This can eliminate human errors and streamline the entire management process.
Most importantly, all relevant data, such as product type, manufacturer names, expiry dates, and batch ID numbers, will be recognized and stored in the systems automatically .
That way, your warehouse workers will not waste time looking for product data in complicated spreadsheets. With automated tools, they can easily find the desired item, see the number of sold items, and even predict future sales.
Most importantly, software like warehouse management systems (WMS) will improve overall warehouse visibility. They allow managers to monitor all inventory-related activities and evaluate employee productivity using a single cloud-based tool.
By investing in artificial intelligence and IoT technologies, you can minimize the need for hiring new warehouse workers and, at the same time, enhance the overall workplace productivity. That is why many companies have started using robots in their warehouses.
One such example is a Shanghai-based ecommerce giant, JD.com, that has established a fully automated warehouse. They invested in 20 industrial robots to perform all tasks without any human assistance or supervision.
IoT enhances your ecommerce company’s performance on so many levels, from providing 360-degree customer insights and personalizing user experiences to shortening customer lifecycles and automating warehouse management and logistics. The way you will use IoT in your ecommerce business depends on your specific needs and industry requirements.