The Internet of Things – also known as IoT – is a term you’ve likely heard but may not know a huge amount about.
Globally, the IoT market is expected to be worth US$1.1 trillion in revenue by 2025 according to GSMA Intelligence. Add to this the string of internal benefits that are out there and considering IoT practices for your business makes absolute sense.
To break it down, IoT is a network that connects the physical and digital worlds by using sensor technologies to chart a range of factors. This could be anything from the temperature of a room to tracking the status of products to see when they might need maintenance.
As such, IoT is opening up a world of possibilities to companies in many sectors. So whether you’re a B2B specialist in automotives, fashion or pharmaceuticals, when it comes to B2B ecommerce organizations, there are some exciting opportunities to harness IoT and its capabilities.
Following Retail’s Lead Around IoT
Cloudfy’s CEO Rob Williams has previously spoken about how cloud-based B2B ecommerce can be a key driver behind the fourth industrial revolution. And according to Juniper Research, many retailers are already using IoT to create an ecosystem they can use to their advantage. So looking into ways to combine these two factors is a wise idea.
By connecting radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags to items and analyzing the data acquired, new levels of actionable insight is being gained.
So from a B2B ecommerce perspective, this kind of IoT-enabled action presents a host of opportunities.
Simply by placing RFID tags in items, there’s a chance to preempt the companies to which you supply and get in touch with them about repurchasing items that are running low in their stock before they have to come to you.
A message like ‘Looks like you’re running low on Item X…want to top up?’ is likely to be well received. It shows an element of care and concern for the customer they may not be getting from your competitors, meaning there’s a chance to enhance customer loyalty.
IoT also presents opportunities to enhance fleet management and logistical capabilities. With greater oversight of vehicle location and status, delivery processes can be enhanced thanks to more intelligent vehicle monitoring, and alerts can be responded to quickly.
Company buildings can also be operated more efficiently, with IoT sensors enabling higher levels of energy management, smart lighting and smart security systems to be introduced.
In a B2B context, IoT presents the chance for automated ordering and reordering. With RFID tags in place, you could allow your customers to set up an automatic request to reorder items from you as soon as their stock goes beneath a certain number for example.
Sensors can also be used to keep tabs on product levels. So, for example, tanks at a chemical refinery could be fitted with sensors that send out a notification when levels reach a certain point and need topping up. This notification could be sent directly to the supplier, who can in turn ensure the requisite products are constantly in supply.
Similarly around food and beverage, by placing sensors in the stock room, notifications can be issued to suppliers when stock is running low. This allows for automated reordering to take place.
IoT has the potential to remove a lot of hassle from companies’ inventory management processes, while also keeping a steady stream of revenue coming your way.
As part of your B2B ecommerce offering, you can help prevent companies from overstocking on products unnecessarily. IoT sensors help keep the proverbial finger on the pulse when it comes to inventories, so you can better provide customers with what they need, when they need it.
IoT also opens up opportunities around B2B marketing. It’s easier to create a fuller picture of a customer’s identity and personalize content and advertisements tailored to them based on previous purchases.
You can also push deals that may be of interest their way, and adapt advertising campaigns to specific customers based on their purchase history and needs.
It’s important B2B ecommerce companies keep their own house in order. IoT sensors can be put into warehouses to ensure the ideal temperatures are in place to prevent stock from overheating for example. A handy notification can be sent out and staff can act accordingly if this is the case.
RFID tags within products also allow for a better overview of a product from its creation to sale. This way, quality standards can be better met and it’s easier to ensure every product created is delivering as it should.
This can even extend beyond the point of sale for certain products. Using technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, predictive maintenance can help ensure work is carried out on products before they breakdown.
This might not be the kind of service many B2B ecommerce companies are looking to employ at present, but it is an option if desired, and may be something more firms look into down the line.
The Time is Now
IoT is here and it’s already having a big impact. Though ecommerce hasn’t made the steps around IoT that other industries have as of yet, there’s no reason to hold off.
The level of insight available and the ease with which this can be aligned with your B2B ecommerce offering means that ignoring the IoT trend isn’t advisable. It’s going to be part of the future of B2B ecommerce, so starting to consider the best ways to integrate it into your business could be a very positive move.
Get the right B2B Ecommerce platform
Though IoT is opening up a world of opportunities to better serve your customers, it’s vital you get the fundamentals right with a powerful platform to deliver on your B2B ecommerce promises.
If you’re interested to learn more about its powerful capabilities, request a free demo here.