The disruptive power of the Internet of Things is transforming retail, but there’s much more to come. An ecommerce expert shares insights on what to expect in the IoT/retail world.
IoT opportunities and challenges- The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) is already having a profound impact on the world of retail, both online and in the brick-and-mortar world. But according to Darin Archer, chief marketing officer of ecommerce software vendor Elastic Path, we haven’t seen nothing yet.
Via email, I asked Archer about the opportunities and challenges the IoT poses for retailers, and he offered some illuminating answers, including how IoT devices are “especially useful for routine purchases” and how they will increasingly pit retailers against manufacturers.
Opportunity in the home, the car, online, and IoT devices
That retailer/manufacturer competition will play out in four key fields, Archer said: the home, the car, online and social media, and from devices themselves.
Retailers have a better opportunity leveraging the IoT in the car. Because driving is often combined with a purchase event, Archer said, retailers can get more sophisticated about knowing when a consumer might arrive at their store and use that information to tailor their shopping experience. One key, he added, is continuing to make strides towards “intelligent inventory insights to pull off a magical experience.”
Online and in social media, the retailers’ goal should be to promote digital engagement: “How convenient and butler-like can the retailer be as shoppers go about their day?” Archer asked. “Think John Turturro’s character Emilio Lopez in the movie Mr. Deeds.”
But perhaps the biggest potential for disrupting retail comes when IoT devices take over the shopping function themselves. “Eventually, my toilet orders more paper and my laundry soap comes as needed based on my washing machine’s monitoring,” Archer predicted. In those scenarios, he wonders, who sells you toothpaste: Target? Philips Sonicare? Or Colgate-Palmolive?
Retail’s online challenges
Retail IoT success depends on delivering a positive, consistent, customer experience, Archer said: “Consumers need to have a unified experience across all online and in-store interactions, whether purchasing at a brick-and-mortar location or through a voice assistant, a wearable device or a smart fridge.”
At a minimum, for example, customers should always know your store hours (even on holidays), available inventory (or appointments), and ideally be able to reserve it for pickup in the store or have it delivered.