People Still Key In The Internet of Things

There are more reports about digital shopping behavior these days than you can shake a stick at. What consumers are doing online has become a bit of an industry obsession.

It's all very helpful, but by now I think we've got the general point: Consumers are doing a lot of shopping online. We witnessed that during the 2015 holidays, when 102 million bought products in stores during the Thanksgiving weekend and 103 million bought products online.

It's also pretty clear that shoppers are going mobile at a pretty rapid rate. If you've visited Target recently, you've seen a lot of ‘guests’ checking their smartphones as they wander the aisles. And mobile already accounts for more than two-thirds of Target's digital traffic.

The faster this mobile migration takes place, the faster The Internet of Things will have a major impact on the shopping experience. We're already starting to see it happen in the store and, increasingly, in the home.

In an earlier article (IoT: Who’s Minding The Store?) I suggested that the idea of a consumer filling her home with dozens and dozens of Amazon Dash buttons to satisfy her shopping needs one product at a time seemed a little impractical. The ability to one-click order more gum just doesn't seem to be something a consumer really needs or wants.

But it didn't take very long for more practical applications of Dash to start materializing. There now are Brother printers, Brita water filters and GE washers that will automatically order the necessary refills of toner, filters and detergent (from Amazon, of course) when pre-determined depletion levels are reached. More Dash-enabled appliances will be arriving throughout the year.

This sounds a lot more like something consumers need and want. One-click ordering of refills needed to keep using an appliance can save a lot of hassle.

The difference between these Dash applications is that the second one does a much better job of leveraging natural behavior rather than trying to teach new habits. Do you need to buy more gum as soon as you run out? Not unless you've got some kind of strange addiction. But reordering toner automatically before the last cartridge runs outis a great way to help the shopper while also improving the user experience.

As the IoT continues to evolve and marketers improve our ability to use digital tools to engage with shoppers and influence purchase, we need to maintain this kind of focus on addressing wants and needs. Internet-enabled devices are bringing marketers into closer contact with consumers than ever before. We just have to make sure they'll want us around.

To do that, we'll need to use insights and data find the right behavior to leverage, the right needs to help solve. That will show us how to use the IoT in the appropriate ways to drive deeper engagement with our shoppers.

For eample, the Starbucks app doesn't just improve the in-store experience by letting customers place coffee orders in advance. It also lets customers take the in-store experience home through a portable playlist of the music that's become part of the Starbucks environment.

It might be a little tougher for brand marketers to make these connections, since effective shopper engagement often requires them to understand and work through specific retailers — and maybe in the very near future, through IoT-enabled appliances.

The shopper is the same, whether walking through the store or standing in front of an IoT-enabled refrigerator. If you understand the wants and needs, you'll find ways to win no matter where she is.


Next story loading loading..