Computing and connectivity are now ubiquitous. We are no longer tethered to desktops and cables in order to connect with the world. The Internet, WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC, and the Internet of Things have revolutionized the ways in which we interact with our environment. This has enabled pervasive computing as a result.
What is pervasive computing? It is the concept that every object we use is embedded with technology that keeps us continuously connected. So whether it is our smartphone, tablet, laptop, phablet, fitness tracker, car, or wearable device, connectivity is something that we take for granted in the daily flow of our lives. Hence, computing is pervasive and continuous. We map our trips on our GPS-enabled phones, look up good restaurants while we are on our way to meet with friends, take and post pictures to social networks, all without actually sitting down at a computer.
So what impact had this had on commerce? Needless to say, pervasive computing has changed the way that we relate to products. Whether it is clothes, electronics, or everyday goods like toothpaste and soap, we rely heavily on online ratings, reviews, and social recommendations before we make a decision. Commerce isn’t destination-based anymore. Commerce is now pervasive, participative, and dynamic. The consumer has the upper hand. We don’t wait to buy things till we are at a store. We can buy them the moment we think about them, at the click of a button, and have them delivered to our doorstep within hours.
This is what we call pervasive commerce. In it, every interaction with a consumer in the physical world or online, is an opportunity to inform, educate and sell products. The competition is fierce and brands and retailers need to ensure that they stand out with exceptional customer service and personalized and targeted product recommendations.
For instance, L’Oreal has a new app that lets women try products on virtually before they buy. It’s a fun and novel way of interacting with products. This is the kind of innovation that will drive the age of pervasive commerce.
Consider this scenario. A person walks into a mall with their Google Glass on. He likes a shirt in a shop window. His Glass scans it. Based on the person’s shopping history, he is offered the piece of clothing in his preferred colors and patterns. He is even given a personalized coupon for purchasing the item right then in the store or buy it online and have it shipped to his house for free. He then shares it on his social network, recommending the product and influencing other buyers. This is the scenario of the future.
Pervasive computing enables pervasive commerce. As computing technology keeps improving, the touch points for brands to interact with consumers are going to be limitless. Companies will have to deliver the right product to the right person at the right place, every time. Let the era of pervasive commerce begin.