IoT in eCommerce: A Heavenly Match or Just another Bad Romance?

IoT in eCommerce: A Heavenly Match or Just another Bad Romance?

The ambitious crossovers are something everyone enjoys. Whether it is Superman vs Batman or Avengers endgame, people go crazy over combinations that they never imagined happening. And the use of IoT in eCommerce is one of those crossovers people are going crazy about right now. 

The application of connected IoT in retail technology is definitely exciting to think about. The possibilities are endless, and there is nothing stopping the entrepreneurs and eCommerce merchants out there from using this combination to their heart’s content.

But no matter how ambitious this crossover is, is it worth all the hype? Does IoT in eCommerce really bear some real value or is it one of those tech combos that gather plenty of hype before disappearing from the market forever? Well, how about we weigh the pros and cons and then decide the worth of this partnership?

IoT in eCommerce: A Partnership worth Paying Attention to?

Let’s go through the definition of IoT real quick-

IoT or the internet of things is basically a network of internet-connected devices that have the ability to perform tasks automatically through sending data using cloud technology. And that’s why it doesn’t take a human being to control these IoT based devices, as they can be easily controlled through remote apps and software. 

eCommerce, on the other hand, needs no specific explanation. It is the technology that gives all of us the ability to make purchases right from our own homes. The question that needs to be answered now is this- how does IoT in eCommerce actually help the industry?

  1. Data Harvesting and Analyzation
    IoT is a technology that mainly works based on data. So it is not a surprise that data harvesting and analyzing will be the first benefit of IoT in retail. 

    Merchants are able to capture buyer data, such as who they are, what they are buying, when they are buying it, and what kind of payment method they are applying to shop. The data, which also often include geographical location, as well as more specific data on the age and gender of the user, can help the merchants to optimize their business strategy and enhance the performance. They can offer a more customized encounter to the users with IoT in eCommerce, retaining old clients as well as attracting new ones. 
  2. Product Tracking for a Better Delivery System
    Tracking their orders is not something only the buyer does. The merchant also needs to pay attention to the quality of the shipping service if they want to ensure success. And that’s where IoT industrial automation comes in. 

    With the use of RFID and GPS, eCommerce merchants are able to track the shipped items. The use of IoT during shipping is to ensure the quality of the product stays the same during transit, as well as its safe delivery. IoT is integral to keeping an eye on the big picture of the supply chain management, which includes location, weather, and the people involved in delivering the product to the customer. All this necessary information helps the merchants to ship the products safely and quickly to the users, as well as inform them if there are any problems with the delivery and predict the delay. Besides the use of IoT in warehouse management, this is one of the ways merchants can ensure quality service to the users.
  3. Inventory Management Made Smart
    Inventory control is an important part of running an eCommerce business. Without being able to control the inventory properly, the business cannot hope to run smoothly. 

    With the use of industrial control systems IoT such as RFID and other IoT sensors, eCommerce merchants are able to keep a track of their inventory, get real-time information on the stock, and what needs to be reordered. Based on all these details, the merchants can keep up a continuous supply of products to their users. 

    IoT technology is not only used for keeping track of the products. Various ambient IoT sensors are also used for the IoT industrial automation of the temperature and humidity of the warehouse, keep a track of expiry dates and the name of the maker, and send out notifications to the warehouse managers if any product is about to go bad. The warehouse management is made easy with the help of IoT integration in eCommerce.
  4. Unchallenged Marketing Consistency 
    Marketing consistency is one of the major things that the eCommerce industry was struggling with. But thanks to IoT technology it is not much of a struggle anymore. 

    Even though the majority of the users are using their smartphones to shop online, the quality and UX of various mobile eCommerce apps are still subpar at best. And as a result, most users are finishing up their shopping on their computer, rather than their smartphones. And that’s where consistent marketing becomes a challenge. Before the integration of IoT, marketing efforts were optimized to be device-based and not user-based. And that’s why there was a serious discrepancy. But now using the IoT based solutions, the eCommerce development services are able to recognize the different devices the individual uses and show them similar content.

    So far it looks good. IoT in the retail supply chain and eCommerce does look like a match made in heaven. The ease and efficiency matched with excellent smart app development processes invented by development companies have made it even better.  But every match has problems and eCommerce/IoT is not an exception.

eCommerce And IoT: A Dubious Attempt At Ambitious Crossover?

IoT is a technology sector that is riddled with privacy and data safety issues. The lack of unified security and privacy compliance rules makes it hard for manufacturers to develop IoT devices that are secure from fraudulent activities outside. But how does this lack of security standard affect the eCommerce industry? 

  1. Lacking a Common Tongue: Complications in the Development
    The first problem that any eCommerce vendor will face when integrating IoT in new business models is the lack of compatible devices. Sure there are plenty of different ranges of devices in the market, but finding all the necessary devices that are compatible with each other is a challenge. 

    The main reason for this is the absence of standard development protocol. Every IoT device and program developer uses different protocols to develop the devices, resulting in discordance between two devices created by different developers. This creates a strong challenge for the merchants to sync and make all the devices work together. And any miscommunication between the devices and data when using IoT in eCommerce can cost a fortune for these eCommerce businesses.
  2. A Compromisation on the Privacy Front
    Sure a smart speaker, one of the flag bearers of IoT devices looks innocent with their built form. But at the end of the day, they are not as simple.

    The incident of 2018, when an Amazon echo device owner in Portland, Oregon was surprised to know that the device not only captured a conversation with their spouse but also sent the said recording to a random person from their contacts, brings the privacy of IoT device data to question. Amazon made an official statement regarding the incident, saying that it was an individual incident that probably happened because the device’s voice recognition misheard the sentence and got activated. But it is a fact that conversation recordings are listened to and monitored by amazon to enhance the user experience. 

    IoT in supply chain management and retail stores do not have built-in security measurements, therefore the data and information the IoT devices collect are open to the hackers and fraudsters out there. This data security structure poses an immense threat to eCommerce businesses worldwide. 
  3. Vulnerable to Zombie Attacks
    No these are not the walking dead kind of zombies. Rather the undead we are going to talk about is the IoT kind. 

    In 2016, Dyn, a DNS provider in the US, was hit with a Mirai botnet attack, one of the biggest so far. This botnet attack, carried out through simple and innocent IoT devices, caused a massive internet blackout all throughout the US east coast, rendering millions of people unable to get on the internet. These bots (IoT devices) were corrupted by the hackers, and then the traffic from these collected bots was directed at the Dyn system, overwhelming it until the servers had to go offline. 

    This kind of distributed denial of service attack is nothing new, yet it was still the biggest we have seen till now. And that’s why when it comes to IoT industrial automation, the question remains- how can eCommerce use such devices that can be a threat to not only data but how the eCommerce system works? These DDoS attacks are one of the major reasons why merchants should think twice before integrating them on the mainframe of the business. 
  4. A Weak Overall Security Structure
    The massive hype around IoT devices has caused the companies to mass-produce and ship them to the market without paying enough attention to the overall security measurements. There are more than enough issues with IoT that makes it a threat to the business itself. 

    From unencrypted data issues to easy to hack passwords, there are more than enough reasons why IoT in eCommerce should be carefully considered. Any kind of problem with business data can cost everything to the business owners and this risk is not worth the integration of some fancy new equipment in the business.  

Wrapping Up: Should you go for IoT Integration in Ecommerce Business?

So, should you do it?

Sure it can be risky, but as long as you are ensuring the security of your own data, backing it up on regular intervals, and taking other security measurements, it will be fine. The pros and cons of IoT in eCommerce are kind of balanced, so the only way to leverage its full benefits is to be ‘Smart’ about it and consult with an experienced eCommerce development company to integrate IoT safely within the business model.