The Internet of Things continues to be one of the most talked about shifts in commerce, but as we move closer to full integration this term has also become insufficient to describe the trend. In 2018, two distinct ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) are evolving simultaneously in the global economy. These two networks are the Industrial IoT and the Consumer IoT.
In the industrial sector, machine-to-machine communication has been a growing standard for decades, allowing sensors, control systems, software to communicate seamlessly providing a fully automated response.
For example, if the inventory levels in a commercial assembly line run low, sensors can send that information over the company’s network and initiate a purchase order. This process is able to proceed with minimal or even no human interaction and allows plant operations to continue with virtually zero downtime.
While the Industrial IoT got an earlier start, the consumer IoT is quickly catching up to this level of interconnectivity. This week we’re going to be taking a look at what the Consumer IoT is and why it’s important for your business to start thinking about it.
What is The Consumer Internet of Things?
Using many of the same underlying technologies from the industrial IoT, the consumer IoT is a framework that transforms how businesses interact with consumers and forces them to reconsider what a point of sale actually is. In this new paradigm everything from coffee makers and laundry machines to cars and smart watches can become potential consumer touch points.
At its core, the consumer IoT is set to bring about a new era of personalized, contextualized selling opportunities that let companies place purchase incentives at the perfect moments when a consumer is most likely to convert.
Say for example your company manufactures dishwashers. Within the consumer IoT, that appliance is connected and able to monitor the number of cleaning cycles that have occurred. Then, when the consumers dish detergent runs low, it can alert the consumer. It doesn’t stop there however, as the consumer IoT gets bigger that same dishwasher can actually order more detergent itself to ensure that the consumer is never left in a situation where they can’t do their dishes.
At its core, the consumer IoT is a new landscape where smart objects monitor, report, and in some cases even take action without the need for inputs from the consumer.
The Consumer IoT is already here
Samsung is a manufacture that has already aggressively pushed into the consumer IoT space with a range of new Family Hub products. One early entrant being their smart refrigerator that has built-in apps that can connect to various services over the home WiFi network. Using this product customers can order their groceries over two popular apps (Instacart and Groceries by MasterCard) at the exact moment they realize they need something.
Beyond grocery services, the fridge also provides webcam access for consumers to monitor what items they already have. This means if they’re ever at the store and can’t remember if they need eggs, they can simply look through the smartphone app and check.
Getting ready for thousands of new sale channels
From a brand and customer experience point of view, selling through the current multichannel space presents challenges enough but in the coming years businesses will need to consider how their system can support hundreds of new and unique channels.
Particularly in the early stages of the consumer IoT, these kinds of transactions will make commerce and transaction systems more complex. If you thought that the integration effort was challenging with just retail, online, social, and mobile, imagine what the landscape will look like when adding another ten internet-connected devices with thousands of people shopping through them.
The key challenge for modern businesses will be to ensure that their commerce platform is capable of adding new sales channels without the massive integration efforts of the past.
In 2018 and the coming years, more and more consumer devices are going to be joining the IoT and this flood of connected devices will fundamentally change the way businesses think about the multi-channel consumer space. Now is the time to start thinking about how your products can fulfill specific customer wishes and then look for the opportunities to build that service right into your products.
As long as you invest in the right underlying back-end commerce platform and make adding new channels easy, there’s no limit to what you can achieve with the consumer IoT.
Is your business ready for the internet of things shift? What products are you looking to bring online and how do you expect it to impact consumer behavior? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter and if you’re looking for more Internet of Things new check out our post Tech Trends to Watch in 2018!