The future of ecommerce – Product intelligence

James and James Cambridge UniI had a really interesting time at Cambridge University with James & James fulfilment on Wednesday this week. They’ve been working with the Institute of Manufacturing, looking at ways to use product intelligence to make ecommerce better and were presenting their research to the invited audience.

For instance they pointed out the big gap between the consumer placing an order and the next time they hear from the retailer – normally when they get a shipping notification. Why should they be able to add more items to their order, change the delivery address, upgrade to a faster shipping service or any number of other amendments? After all right up until the moment that you pick and pack the order there’s time to make changes, it’s just the solutions aren’t out there to make things easy.

Even after the order is shipped why can’t the consumer change the delivery address? For the courier it’s simply just another package with a bar code, but of course none of the parts of ecommerce are joined up. Think how great it would be if the parcel got notified that you’ve asked for a change of address and the next time it’s scanned the parcel instructs the courier to put it back on the van because it’s off to a new destination?

All of this is probably way off in the future. Currently none of the systems are “joined up”, but all the technology and software is already in place. It just needs putting together into one coherent system.

Intelligent-ProductsOf course “way off in the future” in ecommerce terms won’t take very long until it’s a reality. If the consumer can be given visibility into our warehouses, picking and packing, and courier networks, think of the problems it will save. If nothing else it will spell the end of “where is my order” questions as the product or package will be able to answer the consumer itself. Not only that, it can then flag down the nearest picker with an “I’m urgent, I need to be shipped” message, and be prioritised through the system.