Understanding Machine Customers and Their Impact on E-Commerce

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machine customers

Your smart fridge knows your grocery habits and scans items regularly to place orders when you run out of mayo, ketchup, or other condiments. That’s an example of a machine customer. While you are still the end-consumer, machines purchase for you and add another layer of convenience. However, the rise of machine customers may change e-commerce drastically.

What are machine customers?

As mentioned above, anything from your Samsung smart fridge to your Amazon Dash scanner counts as machine customers. It’s essentially a device that uses IoT (Internet of Things) sensors and AI (Artificial Intelligence) to make smart purchase decisions for you autonomously. While the Amazon Dash scanner isn’t a true machine customer, its future iterations may be.

The evolution trajectory of machine customers:

Gartner outlines an evolution trajectory of machine customers in three different stages –

  • Bound Customers – Amazon Dash and HP Instant Ink that operate within specific parameters and programming set by you may be considered bound customers. We are at this stage.
  • Adaptable Customer – Machine customers would be able to make better decisions with minimal input. Think of bot buyers trading stocks on the market, or autonomous vehicles self-diagnosing problems and ordering replacement components.
  • Autonomous Customer – This stage may appear in the far future when machine customers are completely autonomous and require no user input for complex decision-making and purchases.

Impact of machine customers on e-commerce

1. Convenience and efficiency

Some of you already have stepped foot into the future with smart fridges, smart printers, and similar gadgets in your home. You never run out of ink in the middle of printing and your favorite condiments are always stocked in the refrigerator.

Moreover, you don’t need to waste any time or energy on these redundant and repetitive purchases. This new level of efficiency and convenience is a glaring benefit of AI in customer service.

2. More optimization

Inventory management is challenging and that’s why several tech companies make custom inventory management software for logistics and e-commerce businesses. Unfortunately, that still doesn’t get rid of the complexities and requires highly skilled individuals to operate that software and get help from data analytic tools to keep things running smoothly.

AI implementation in businesscan add machine customers to solve this issue and make inventory management simple and affordable for even small factories and brick-and-mortar stores.

These machine customers can predict future demand, analyze sales data, and take account of logistical and manufacturing hurdles to always have the right items stocked in your inventory. They can even make delivery hubs more efficient and make one-day delivery more accessible.  

3. Personalized purchases

Presently e-commerce giants know more about your shopping behavior than you and recommend amazing product suggestions. As AI evolves and these systems get better and more accurate, machine customers can take over to deliver personalized purchase experiences. Wouldn’t it be great if machine customers could predict when your power bank may malfunction and deliver a new one to you before the next camping trip?

4. Businesses would adapt to machine customers

Marketers and product designers would have to account for machine customers in business decisions. As machine customers slowly take over your shopping cart, e-commerce pages and marketing materials must be optimized for both humans and machines.

Machine customers bring a lot of benefits. However, it’s also important to be aware of the security, transparency, and other challenges posed by them. How about you? Do you think machine customers would bring a revolution in e-commerce and make big impacts like AR and VR? Or, would they make us hand more decision-making power to our AI overlords? Let us know in the comments. 

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