We live in times of very intensive changes in eCommerce. The market is stimulated by new ideas, innovations, technology and – let’s face it – EU funds. We are now, more than ever, able to make impossible ideas come true.
The times when online shopping was associated with feelings of fear and insecurity are already history. Security tools developments is an obvious advantage. What’s also very important is changes in law – new regulations are more consumer-friendly. Today we can buy online without as great of fear as before. Also flexibility of e-stores gives better refunds, returns and claims procedures.
But there is still much to be done in this field. Let’s assume for a while that best practices eCommerce takes from traditional „offline“ commerce. Keeping this in mind we can say that the best is yet to come.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a term which appears more and more often in innovation context, also related to eCommerce. The unique synergy of the online and offline world is the most natural direction of development. A complex network of communicating items opens new ways of making our business life easier in so many fields: social media, marketing, countless mobile applications and of course eCommerce.
Numerous IoT solutions are built on Beacon technology. Beacons are small sensors working on radio signal, bluetooth and low-consuming batteries. The Beacons transmit to a specific location (e.g. mobile application installed on our phone) information about movement, temperature, light or just presence in a given place. Only our imagination limits countless possibilities of Beacon usage. Solutions can be simply commercial (sales information in a mall you are close to or a personalized offer in a cafe you have just passed by). However, there are many ideas of how to use new technology in common good areas like navigation guidelines at the airport or sightseeing hints for people visiting foreing countries.
Snowdog was a Knowledge Partner during Internet of Things Poland conference where we led a hackathon related to Beacon technology. During brainstorming, participants gave a bunch of really great ideas. Choosing a winner was not easy. Eventually the winning team presented the prototype of a coffee pad indicating if the coffe is too hot, too cold or just right. However we also loved the application which was designed to help find a child lost in a mall. What we liked the most was that the brainstorming session proved what a great potential Beacon technology has.
When it comes to eCommerce, the Internet of Things is developing really fast. The new Amazon solution– Dash Button – is a great example of „one-click-buy“ process moved to the offline world. With only one button you can buy a previously defined product. The transaction is already connected to your favorite payment method (PayPal, of course!). Paying with one click is nothing new in Amazon, so the Dash Button is only one step forward, out of the monitor and mouse clicks.
The same idea can be used also in other, non-Amazon shops. We created Magebutton, which answers the same needs, but it’s connected to Magento e-shops. It allows super easy shopping with a predefined cart and payment. There are products we buy on the regular basis: detergents, pet food, coffee, milk, diapers… and so much more. We also took care so the Magebutton is adjusted to blind and visually-impaired sand-blind consumers. Helping them making everyday purchases is one of the project‘s goals.
IoT solutions are not really addressing any new needs. The power of habit is actually creating those needs. Not so long ago, Internet access was possible only from the home/office. Then smartphones became popular and the Internet was accessible from everywhere. Does humankind have a NEED to be online all the time? Not necessairly. But since it was possible, information access is immediate and social contacts (Facebook/Twitter/e-mail etc.) easier. We end up with being frustrated when we run out of G3 data or lose wi-fi connection. It’s true; let’s be honest with ourselves. We got used to the luxury of being online all day long, so the need which is relatively new in our society became a natural element of our everyday life.
New technology development allows more, giving us new standards we didn’t have the chance to know before. Information that devices can gather, connected to each other, can create new needs. Who knows – maybe these needs become a standard as well?
The Internet of Things brings more to the table: intelligent houses, renewable energy and everyday items communicating with each other. Lights in the flat adjusting to the daylight outside, the bathtub filling with water a few minutes before you come back home and more. Solutions that might seem luxorious today, will be standard tomorrow. The more popularity these solutions gain, the more cost-efficientthey will be. Social network intensity will also help to distinguish ideas most accurate and needed on the market. Actually, we are not speaking of the future – it happens now.
Just expect the unexpected.