You’ve heard of the “Internet of Things,” through which a network of objects can communicate and work with one another. The potential of IoT hasn’t even begun to be scratched, and new tech innovations are constantly seeking new ways to leverage this technology to create a smarter, better and more-connected world.
But brands should pay attention to another tech-enabled revolution specific to the world of retail. It’s called the “Commerce of Things,” and according to James Gagliardi for Internet Retailer, it represents “the way connected physical objects are starting to mediate the ways we make purchases.”
CoT might best be considered a sub-group of the IoT, but it’s important to consider on its own. Retailers must understand how these emerging technologies serve their industry’s context: The consumer, and the retail shopping experience.
Commerce of Things solutions can encompass a wide range of technologies and services, such as automated reordering of consumable goods or help finding items in a store. Retailers haven’t begun to test just how far these opportunities could carry them — but it’s clear these changes will move commerce boldly in a new, exciting direction.
Finding Opportunity in Change
CoT requires a shift in mindset among many retailers, and some difficulty adjusting is to be expected. But Commerce of Things opportunities could be a critical asset for retailers, strengthening both digital and physical shopping experiences.
Retail leadership may be best convinced by the benefits of building toward a CoT shopping experience. And the potential benefits run deep, and in several directions.
Among the most obvious applications of CoT solutions is the ability to automate product ordering. This allows for fast, efficient service to consumers, while retailers lock in consistent revenues from repeat sales. This could extend to household goods like laundry detergent and light bulbs, even to groceries. Imagine new parents not having to fuss with ordering more diapers or baby food. Instead, everything arrives on their doorstep with perfect timing.
Similarly, this access to behavioral data can drive additional selling strategies, including product recommendations and upselling. But the data isn’t based on past purchases alone — instead, information gathered from other objects and tech interfaces can provide clues as to what products and solutions might benefit an individual.
And where revenues concerned, CoT shopping builds a valuable long-term asset: Brand loyalty. When consumers experience the integration of technology into their lives — and reap the benefits — they will be more likely to return to that experience time and again. Think back to automated product ordering: When a retailer is providing a consumer with consistent diapers deliveries every week, why would that consumer mess with a good thing? As long as service is as expected, they’re very likely to stay.
For retailers, that’s a huge accomplishment: CoT can drive repeat purchases and regular shoppers while blocking out the risk of losing business to competitors.
As CoT develops, its possibilities will likely extend far beyond what we’ve laid out here. But as the market for these technologies takes shape, it’s clear retailers will want to get their hands on these solutions.
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