The internet of things isn’t really a new concept. It’s been in discussions ever since the year 1989 during the unveiling of a connected toaster.  But what does it really mean? The Internet of Things is a technology infrastructure for everyday objects that include refrigerators to traffic lights connected to talk to each other with the assistance of sensors. IoT also encompasses the convergence of connected devices and smart appliances.

What is an example for IoT?

Imagine when you are rushing to a friend’s place and need to collect dinner for all on your way. As you crank the engine of your car, the restaurant is alerted that you are on your way. As you leave for work, your car asks you to slow down as the meeting has been postponed. This kind of information can save lot of time and effort.

Photo Credit: http://hiconsumption.com/2014/08/the-barisieur-coffee-making-alarm-clock/

All these connected devices can automatically get your work done over a wireless network. The result? Well, let’s keep it short and say a smart life.
On the same lines, Kuliza recently assisted technology giant Bosch to build an intelligent energy management system which simplifies complex data received from Bosch energy meters and help users optimize energy consumption remotely, without compromising on accuracy. You can read more about our solution here.

How is IoT being used for commerce today?

In a connected world, products are no longer one-and-done. The bar code affixed to your purchase not just registers the correct price of the product, but connecting it via a network also records the time and place of the sale.

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In addition, a connected network would additionally enable customers get real time updates on current inventory for preferred size and colour. These indicators of increased connectivity show the IoT is transforming the consumer’s shopping trips – especially since consumers are expecting more digital in-store experiences. Similarly we can create the possibility of developing a personal relationship with the loyalty card ( that use technology such as NFC) to not just reward members, but to unlock a whole range of value added services during in-store experiences to give that competitive edge.

How does IoT impact the future of commerce?

Recently, I came across the GE social fridge, a campaign in Austin, Texas. What was interesting about this campaign was the conceptualization of it. The fridge opens its door to passerby’s to offer aerated drinks or beer only after ten persons have checked in on four square. An interesting an engaging campaign to create in-store excitement by building cool commerce promotions. If you take this campaign to the next level, once the fridge delivers a coke after ten check-ins on four square, you could also include a scratch card to win your own sensor fridge or a discount of a product accompanied by a sensor. Now we’re talking cross promotion.

GE Fridge

The essence of these trends is that human intervention in determining commerce strategies becoming less of a necessity for commerce operations but creativity, flair and innovation will become increasingly important for differentiation

There are more than 2 billion connected devices being used now. It’s expected to grow to over 20 billion connected devices by 2025. IoT has gained greater adoption in the last few years with the dropping prices of IoT-enabled devices and sensors and the availability of Big Data solutions that can process millions of events per second in real time.

Below are 5 areas where IoT is likely to have an immediate and big impact on commerce:

Inventory Management:

 

Sensor Tag

IoT helps by deploying sensors in the form of radio frequency tags on products to track and analyze them in real time. The tracking can be done in multiple places including store shelves, storage areas or in a warehouse. The sensors also assist in tracking the location of an entire pallet. All data generated by sensors can be connected to a real time event-processing solutions enabling the system monitor inventory levels, raise alerts, and automatically place orders. This leads to greater inventory accuracy and better use of the retailer’s working capital.

Fleet Management:

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Since age long, GPS devices have been used to track movement of delivery trucks. IoT just raises the bar here by allowing rules to be defined — the delivery route, the recommended speed, adjusting storage temperature automatically while transporting perishable items, raising alerts for any unplanned or extended stoppages, and identifying maintenance issues before the truck breaks down. This results in lowering fuel costs, reduced theft and loss, accurate lead times, and extending the life of the fleet. In addition, customers can also use the data from the IoT devices to track their products real time, versus getting intermittent updates from shipping providers.

Maintenance & Warranty:

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Real time data being sent from sensors on the products back to the retailer, which helps in identifying malfunctions or warranty issues. Additionally, this data can be used to better products, as retailers know their customer experience. High-ticket items use the embedded sensors to track products in case of a theft.

Real-time promotions:

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In a pocket friendly world today, mobile phones are a key part of IoT. Many retailers use them to send real time promotions, which are typically sent based on factors such as the customer’s shopping history, personal preferences, location, as well as real time weather, traffic, and special events. Omni-channel retailers use this feature to send promotions for products in the physical store that the customer has already researched on their laptop or mobile device.Take the example of iBeacons which identifies a customers presence in store and alerts him or her with targeted ads.  Location-based tracking is currently trending to offer assistance to customers for an in-store experience.

Connected vending machines:

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Vending machines can communicate in real time to monitor machines’ inventory levels, enable predictive maintenance, find the nearest machine that has the product a customer wants, and also elastically price products based on factors such as demand, weather patterns and available inventory.

These are just some domains that can be explored by the genius of IoT. What are some ways you would like to see where IoT can work for you? Feel free to share your thoughts as comments. We’re love to explore some your ideas!