Mar 07, 2018
By: Jason Smith
IoT devices are flooding the market — not in a fading fad kind of way, but in a market landscape-changing kind of way.
While some brands see devices like the Amazon Echo as just another channel they need to serve content through, the reality is that these devices can significantly improve the customer experience you’re currently offering.
DoubleClick, a Google subsidiary, reports that 53 percent of web surfers abandon a web page if it takes longer than three seconds to load. Plus, digital marketing thought leader Gary Vaynerchuk recently articulated the importance of speed in the consumer’s mind:
“No one wants complexity layered upon their daily life. People want freedom, simplicity and speed. It’s one of the biggest market advantages you can possibly create. Uber saves you time. Amazon [Echo] saves you time. GrubHub and Doordash save you time. It’s why they’ve won,” he said.
IoT devices have already helped speed up our daily routines by helping us order coffee, check the traffic, and hear the news with just a quick voice command — which we can execute while doing pretty much anything else. And that combination of speed and convenience is exactly where the true value of an IoT device lies.
Appliances equipped with IoT technology can make shopping much easier. Refrigerators can track the items stored within them and place orders with local grocery stores for items that are running low or near their expiration dates. Exercise trackers can alert users to sales on athletic apparel. Smartphones can send an order to the user's favorite coffee shop before the user starts their morning commute.
When retailers are able to attract customers into the store, then the true test of what IoT technology can do for both sides of the transaction begins. Customized beacons can send alerts to the customer's smartphone to let them know about discounts for products that they typically buy. Smart wallets let customer pay with just a tap, while voice-activated checkout systems can allow the customer to make purchases with just a word.
Paul Thomas, Senior Manager at Accenture Digital in London, penned an article about the potential that IoT can have to improve the retail customer experience:
“When it comes to connected commerce the sky really is the limit,” wrote Thomas. “If they want to purchase (an item), they’d do so through a voice command or simply placing it in their basket. Upon leaving the store all payments, loyalty, offers and rewards are all automatically calculated and processed with minimum fuss leaving the customer satisfied with the experience and the retail employee free to interact with customers on the shop floor.”
One of the most time-consuming aspects of any business that deals in physical goods comes from inventory-related tasks. Retailers depend on knowing the status of their inventory for each item. Not only do they need to know which items to restock, but they also need to know which items are flying off the shelves, and which ones are collecting dust. The tasks involved in tracking this information are often subject to error, which can lead to expensive mistakes.
An IoT system can deliver real-time information to retailers. From the moment a product arrives from a warehouse, to the second a customer walks out with their purchase, an IoT framework can ensure that the inventory tracking process is smooth, accurate, and up-to-date. Retailers can then make the correct decision as to which products to restock and which ones to avoid.
Desikan Madhavanur, Executive VP and Chief Development Officer at JDA Software, wrote about how how IoT devices can make retail experiences more efficient for both store owners and customers.
“Tapping into the Internet of Things (IoT) and an expanded partner ecosystem unlocks the insights necessary for store managers to make more timely and accurate decisions, boosting efficiency and productivity while leading to better customer experiences and increased sales,” Madhavanur wrote.
One of the most frustrating aspects of modern life occurs when machines break down. For most people, the extent of their repair skills consists of picking up the phone and calling a repair technician. The customer then has to wait days or even weeks before their product is examined, fixed, or replaced.
With IoT technology, a broken refrigerator or faulty air conditioner can diagnose its own problem and contact a technician to initiate the repair ticket. The time it takes to fix or replace the item should also be decreased, since the problem will be apparent from the get-go.
And if we dare to dream even bigger, augmented reality (AR) can also help consumers become technicians themselves. At least, that’s what John Dubay, Business Development Manager at Ingersoll Rand, thinks will happen.
“Augmented reality should make them (users) experts,” said DuBay. “If you walked up to service a piece of equipment you’ve never seen before you wouldn't know what to do. AR doesn't care. All you need is common sense.”
Here’s an example that may seem futuristic, but shouldn’t seem far-fetched. With AR-enabled technology, a user can place their smartphone camera over the broken machine, while the phone accesses a blueprint or technical specifications from the manufacturer and superimposes them onto the image in real time. The augmented reality image can show where the malfunction occurs, which part needs to be replaced, and even place the order or write the ticket for the repairs.
No matter what kind of product or service you offer, your consumers want you to save them time — and while IoT devices may not make time travel possible, it does allow both companies and customers to use what time they have more effectively.
Take it from our client, Gettysburg College, and learn how they used the power of dotCMS to save students time with their slew of Alexa Skills.
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