With the massive increase in Internet penetration, online shoppers has seen e-commerce enjoy a steady growth globally. With estimated revenues of 158 billion yuan for the China-based Alibaba and $178 billion for Amazon in 2017, e-commerce is expected to become the future of retail.
As different e-commerce platforms look to use technology to provide improved experiences to their users, the Internet of Things presents a number of opportunities for growth to e-commerce entrepreneurs.
The Internet of things ( IoT) refers to the network of physical devices such as mobile phones, vehicles, home appliances among others, embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and connectivity which enables them to exchange data.
Below are some of the ways in which IoT is influencing the e-commerce businesses and helping them grow fast.
Application of IoT through sensors goes a long way to improve real-time monitoring and tracking of inventory, reducing human errors in reordering items. For merchants, information such as product type, manufacturer’s name, and the expiry date of items can be automatically stored in the system without human intervention.
This information will assist not only in restocking but also evaluating changes in customers’ trends and preferences. Smart shelves can be implemented to track the number of items sold and place timely automatic orders, greatly reducing customer disappointments from products running out of stock
Beyond inventory management, IoT can a be applied in eliminating over-stocking of items in the warehouses. For storage of perishable products, monitoring sensors can be used to check the optimum temperature and send alerts whenever required.
Supply chain management
An efficient supply chain is at the heart of any e-commerce system, ensuring that goods from merchants reach customers at the highest levels of convenience.
Using Radio-frequency identification (RFID) and Global Positioning System (GPS), IoT can facilitate tracking of goods from production to delivery avoiding loss and misplacement of shipments.
Real-time tracking of items in transit provides useful information such as physical location and storage temperature making it possible to manage routes and speed of the shipped products.
The Internet of Things technology allows retailers to deliver a comprehensive shopping experience to customers with a high-level of personalisation, as vendors are able to monitor trends and get real-time information on goods required by a certain market leading to satisfaction and engagement.
Through IoT, businesses are able to recognise shopping patterns, search trends and online browsing providing for personalised advertising to a targeted group of potential customers who are likely to purchase their products.