Increasing internet penetration and accessibility to affordable smartphones in emerging markets has led to the exponential growth of eCommerce. The global valuation of the eCommerce market is expected to surpass 6 trillion dollars by 2023.
As it continues to grow, the eCommerce market is innovating to optimize, maximize its reach, and enhance its bottom line.
With more people getting connected to eCommerce every day and ever-changing customer behavior, businesses are leveraging new-age technologies to transform production and other processes.
Moreover, eCommerce players are aggressively integrating the Internet of Things (IoT) to optimize their delivery channels, order tracking, marketing, and maintenance, among others.
Let us take a more in-depth look into how IoT is enabling eCommerce businesses to become more efficient and profitable.
1. Improved Tracking Across the Supply Chain
While running an eCommerce business, the biggest challenge that you would face is the efficient management of supply chain across all touchpoints. And this is where IoT comes into the game. IoT is helping businesses monitor, process, and deliver orders more efficiently.
Here is how.
IoT-powered software has made sure that orders get tracked at every touchpoint in real-time without any hassle. The best part is that you can track every order right from the packaging in the warehouse to the time you deliver it to the end-customer.
Businesses are leveraging RFID and GPS technologies to track every movement of the product during transit.
These technologies are also leveraged to monitor the temperature and location of perishables to ensure that they reach fresh and healthy to the end-user.
It is helping eCommerce vendors to correctly estimate the arrival time of the product to the warehouse to its delivery time to the customer.
On top of that, eCommerce giants have also deployed sensors in their delivery vehicles to ensure real-time tracking of goods while reducing losses occurred due to late deliveries.
Recently, Amazon debuted its electric package delivery drone to make the last-mile delivery of goods even more efficient. The drone is capable of flying up to 15 miles with up to 5 pounds of payload. This will enable Amazon to facilitate orders in just 30 minutes.
Amazon is also testing completely autonomous robots called Scout with six prototypes to facilitate field delivery of products at the doorstep of the customer.
All these connected devices result from IoT, which is enabling businesses to push the envelope of innovation and deliver a customer-delight experience at a faster speed.
2. Warehouse Optimization
The increasing number of orders and multiple products in the catalog has exponentially increased the size of warehouses. And with numerous types of perishable and non-perishable products lying under one roof, warehouse management has become even more complicated.
To tackle such a complex ecosystem of goods storage, IoT is not enough. Instead, to facilitate specific requirements of the industry, you need to leverage the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
The significant difference between IoT and IIoT is that while you require IoT for general use, IIoT solutions are more suitable for tackling industrial requirements.
Here is how IoT is enabling efficient warehouse management:
- Guided Vehicles: Warehouses have deployed autonomous vehicles that are being leveraged to carry the bulk of goods from one point to another. These smart vehicles are capable of calculating the shortest possible route between aisles and point of packaging.
Moreover, companies are now leveraging these robots to restock inventory without any human intervention.
- Goods Tracking: Goods tracking is helping warehouse managers to figure out how well items are selling. And based on the forecast of demand, you can optimize the storage of each and every product.
This practice especially helps with the efficient management of perishables whose shelf life is not more than a week.
- Drones: Warehouses have multiple shelves stacked over each other. This means that employees need to use long ladders to reach products stored at top shelves, which increases the risk of injuries and inefficiency.
To address this issue, large warehouses are now using drones to track and pull down goods stored at heights for the purpose of employee safety while achieving greater efficiency.
Automated warehouse management systems are helping eCommerce businesses to enable cheaper and faster delivery while optimizing the cost of running a warehouse efficiently.
3. Marketing and Customer Relation
IoT has interconnected consumer devices with eCommerce businesses. eCommerce businesses are collecting heaps of first-party customer data from various touchpoints. To make sense of all the data, online vendors are using AI and ML.
It has enabled businesses to listen easily, think, and respond to the unique needs of customers. Online businesses have become more capable of rendering highly personalized services at the right time, with the right message and on the right device.
Nobody knows the real value of “customer-delight” experience better than eCommerce businesses.
To ensure productive and satisfactory customer relations, online vendors are using different IoT solutions while staying cost-efficient.
In fact, more than 31 percent of businesses are already leveraging AI to deliver flawless customer support.
Businesses are using Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to automate customer support operations easily. RPA is helping businesses to reduce operational risks while keeping the existing system and staying cost-efficient.
4. Maintenance, Warranty, and Theft Loss
According to a report, the losses due to eCommerce fraud have increased to $3.3 billion in just Asia, Europe, and North America. With rising fraud rates, eCommerce businesses are leveraging IoT to reduce fraud risks.
IoT is enabling online merchants to track their shipments at every point through RFID and GPS technology. This has substantially decreased the risk of theft and fraud.
Moreover, IoT is enabling eCommerce businesses to optimize their operating costs while staying lean and competitive. IoT systems notify warehouse managers about preventive maintenance and the expiry date of stored products to expedite their delivery first.
eCommerce businesses are leveraging IoT based digital warranty solutions for proactive and preemptive warranty management.
As a result, it is enabling businesses to manage warranty data in real-time, allowing them to upsell warranty schemes and promote other maintenance services efficiently.
These are just some of the ways IoT is revolutionizing eCommerce. With eCommerce businesses gaining more footprint with each passing day, it has become crucial for them to leverage IoT-enabled business processes.
To summarize, IoT will help online businesses become more agile, cost-efficient, and reflexive towards customer preferences in the long run.
Heather Redding is a content manager for rent, hailing from Aurora. She loves to geek out writing about wearables, IoT and other hot tech trends. When she finds the time to detach from her keyboard, she enjoys her Kindle library and a hot coffee. Reach out to her on Twitter.