The Internet of Things (IoT) now touches many parts of our lives and for business to business (B2B) ecommerce companies this includes manufacturing, ordering, selling and distributing products. Rather than a revolution it is more of an evolution as we all embrace new ways of living and working.
The economic-value potential of the IoT is particularly prevalent in factory settings where it’s expected to account for the largest amount of potential value, estimated to be around 26% by 2030, worth around US$3.3trillion.
Integration as part of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is altering the face of B2B ecommerce, and organizations that are well prepared will gain a clear competitive advantage.
IoT is pervasive
You have probably interacted with one or more IoT devices during the last 24 hours. You might have used a WiFi connected home appliance, a wearable device, a home assistant, or you might have tracked an online purchase.
The idea of an Internet of Things was first suggested in 1999 to describe a connected network of objects that can share data and interact. Devices such as smart phones have enabled a wide range of connected functions, including online research and buying. It’s predicted that there will be over 27billion IoT connections by 2025.
The widespread availability of 5G, for example, will enable a new generation of IoT applications including remote monitoring, visual inspections and autonomously operating plant, machinery and vehicles.
How the IoT can affect B2B ecommerce
- Self-service – up to 80% of B2B customers prefer to use digital self-service options because they are easy to access at any convenient time and can be used in a safe work- or home-based environment. IoT devices, such as voice assistants, smart watches, or mobile apps allow B2B buyers to make purchases as easily as they buy personal items online.
- Data collection – IoT devices enable data collection at multiple touchpoints to provide real-time insights. This might include trends and patterns in customer behavior, stock levels, or maintenance information for your production line, for example. Using sensors in your equipment, you can also monitor use and anticipate demand for replacement parts and consumable items.
- Cost reductions – radio frequency identification (RFID) tags can store information on your stock movements and where each unit is in the supply chain. You can automatically highlight delays and bottlenecks to improve your efficiency and increase customer satisfaction. You can even optimize delivery routes to reduce fuel costs.
Reliable and continuous data sources provide a real-time picture of movements between your warehouse and third-party logistics provider (3PL), for example. You can anticipate and resolve potential operational issues quickly to minimize costly delays. Temperature sensors could make sure variations are highlighted to maintain perishable products in good condition and avoid spoilage.
- Improved revenue – subscription services are growing in popularity because of their ease and convenience. The IoT can take this a step further by anticipating when your customers might need to replace consumable items like printer cartridges, for example. Reminders can be sent or the products can be despatched automatically to make sure their supplies don’t run out, maintaining an ongoing revenue stream. You can even help your customers to avoid overstocking using IoT sensors in storerooms to keep track of used items so you can provide them with what they need, when they need it.
- Personalization – IoT offers almost limitless possibilities to track customer activities and identify offers, promotions and additional services that will genuinely benefit them and meet their needs. The more personalized your products, prices, and promotions the higher their satisfaction is likely to be, helping you to retain their loyalty, and increase their lifetime value to your business.
Things to think about
Better business performance and improved customer satisfaction make harnessing IoT an attractive option, providing opportunities that you can’t afford to miss in the future.
Data security will be a priority because, as the IoT becomes more important in our everyday lives, it will attract the attention of cyber criminals. Your customers will want to know that they will benefit from the data you collect and that it is in safe hands. You will want to give careful thought about how your chosen business partner can support your privacy, data retention and security policies to be sure they are open and transparent.
Taking the next step
Cloudfy is a B2B ecommerce solution that’s designed to meet your needs, now and in the future. With a wealth of ecommerce features available out of the box and pre-built integrations for leading business systems, you can take full advantage of the opportunities offered by the IoT. Because it’s a scalable software as a service (SaaS) platform it can also grow with your business.
If you’re interested in an ecommerce software that meshes well with your IOT strategies, take a moment to schedule your complimentary Cloudfy demo.