Commerce is going through a state of disruption. The explosion of technology in the form of smartphones, tablets, and wearable devices has transformed the way that we discover and buy products. Watch this commercial about the Internet of Everything from Cisco that paints an enchanting and enticing picture of a future where everything is connected, and our lives exist in a beautiful circularity.
What is the Internet of Things? What does it entail? At the basic level, it refers to a system of smart devices connected to the cloud. For instance, the Nest thermostat uses machine learning algorithms to adjust the temperature of your house according to your preferences and habits. You can also control the devices in your home from your smart phone. Quirky makes cool devices like a smart egg storage device called the Egg Minder that sends a notification to your phone when you are low on eggs and also tells you how long the eggs have been sitting in the refrigerator.
So what kind of an impact will technology like this have on commerce? Based on the vision presented by the Cisco commercial and the many advances taking place in the way that commerce is conducted, we can expect a tremendous impact on our lives. We are entering a consumer-centric era of commerce where every interaction with a consumer is an opportunity to inform, educate, and buy or sell products and services. More and more emphasis is being placed on personalizing product offers for the right customer, at the right time, and the right place.
Big data will play an important role in this transition. Imagine the amount of data that exists about consumers’ shopping history, social behavior, and preferences. Combine that with equally deep and rich information about products across various factors – pricing, availability, assortment, attributes, promotions, etc. Now, conflate this with the power of connectivity that the Internet of Things offers.
For instance, say you have an Egg Minder or a smart washing machine at home. When you are low on eggs or laundry detergent, not only will you get a notification about it on your phone, but it will also be tied with a specific instance of time and place. So, if you are at your local store, your phone will send you a personalized offer with the best price for the related product. Or if your preferred method of shopping is online, along with the push notification, you will also get the best possible price and promotion offer for that product, and you can buy it with just one click. This kind of a hyper-connected and hyper-targeted experience of shopping is what the Internet of Things offers.
Of course, when it comes to data, there is also the question of privacy and security. At least as of now, most of the services that the Internet of Things provides are where consumers have to opt in by installing a particular app or service. As the personalized shopping experience develops, more sophisticated privacy technology should be able to ensure that consumers don’t feel intruded upon, but in fact feel like their lives are simplified by this enhancement.
This is what we define as the age of “product-awareness”. Products will become the kind of information that we take for granted in the daily flow of our lives. This new wave truly is going to change Everything.