A few years ago, online and offline shopping existed separately. But recently, this has changed as both online and offline shopping is gradually merging. This can be attributed to increased use of mobile use of mobile devices which now account for 60% of the time that users spent online. Gone are the days when we used to wonder about offline vs. online. The main concern for retailers is to provide a seamless online and offline shopping experience to customers whenever they want and regardless of their location.
It was previously agreed that offline retailers needed to establish an online presence. This has also changed because online retailers are also realizing that they need to build offline presence to continue enjoying success. Put simply, any retailer who considers themselves is making an effort to fuse online with offline to provide a seamless shopping experience to customers.
The Internet of Things has taken on the role of changing dynamics and blurring the lines between offline and online shopping. This has enabled brick and mortar retailers to offer personalized services to consumers while online retailers are now able to touch people’s lives in different ways beyond the screens. These changes have even the playing field by making it possible for traditional retailers to fight back against the growing popularity of online retail and ‘show rooming.’
Online retailers are now taking on the challenge of opening brick and mortar stores. A good example is the brick and mortar store opened recently by Amazon.com in New York City. Other online stores that have opened physical stores include Frank & Oak, Birchbox, BaubleBar and Warby Parker.
Despite having an edge on other retailers by creating customized shopping experience, online retailers weren’t able to touch consumers directly due to inability to pass beyond the screens. This has however changed and Amazon is now one of the leading retailers to take IoT by storm. For instance, the Amazon Dash button allows consumers to use a key-sized device to order products online. And with the acquisition of IoT developer, 2lementary, we are set to see more changes soon.
Brick and mortar stores are probably the biggest winners in this emerging trend due to the increased popularity of the web rooming trend where consumers research products online but buy them offline. Another significant factor in the emerging trend is the massive shift from use of desktop computers to mobile devices.
The challenge for retailers is not just about maximizing sales through IoT. It’s more about creating improved customer experience. This means that retailers have to be mindful of more than providing money-off coupons through beacons. IoT is offering several ways through which stores can improve customer experience and retailers should take advantage of that.
Yogesh Huja, Founder
Freedom Smart Labs Pvt Ltd
An Internet of Things Innovation Company