Use cases IOT for Wholesale
Within the wholesale distribution industry, distributors are looking for ways to compete with Amazon Supply, a company that boasts a B2B catalog with over 18 million products. As a result, distributors are developing and/or modifying their E-commerce channels to contend with shrinking margins and fierce competitors like Amazon.
There are two ways for wholesale distributors to defend their market share:
- Concentrate on technology product enhancements and the arsenal of technology features and consulting that an Amazon or other competitor will not be able to follow, both on the quality of the content and the quality and pertinence of the adviser.
- Bring new innovation services that will make the customer “sticky” enough and be less tempted to do business elsewhere.
In that second case, the Internet of Things (IOT) is clearly an axis of innovation services that we can categorize in different innovative scenarios for wholesale distribution:
A Connected product
The product practically sells itself with messaging technology through internet alerts, allowing immediate response time
- Quality control: for instance a pump indicating increasing pressure that predictive maintenance considers as to be revised before it malfunctions. Another example could be the fresh food where the follow up of the T° may trigger to take off some batches.
- Replenishment :
- Some wholesalers now provide vending machines giving real-time stock indicators to provide optimized replenishment.
- Expansion to traditional supply management at the customer site, with crates being equipped with pressure detectors, sensing the weight and therefore the stock in units still on hand enabling an optimized and touchless replenishment capability for the customer.
- Automatic Replenishment of products like printing cartridges, where a printer sends an alert when the ink-level is running low or in the case of a soap distributor, allowing alerts on product availability levels.
- Transportation use with the control of the speed, the cooler t°, optimization of the deliveries and itinerary changes, identifying incidents and even triggering a return to the warehouse to reload orders.
- Tracking of the product lifecycle. With ecological measures there are pressures, to be able to identify ways to recycle and re-use. This requires tracking and returning items from customers to the warehouse or supplier. An additional example for smaller retailers is to leverage larger order sizes to avoid unit packaging and distribute products in adapted container asset going forth and back between the retailer and the distributor.
The Connected Customer
Call centers are still of great importance to wholesale distributors, and E-Commerce has added another complementary channel.
Customers continue to make use of call centers, however their experience can be enhanced with the use of the “Dash button,” a simple button you can have anywhere or even virtual on smart phone, allowing when pushed to be re-contacted by the call center within a few minutes, typically when it is time to order products. An example would be the use by a parts distributor for replenishment when inventory levels are low or in the food service industry when a location is short on essential products.
With these IOT Use cases, Wholesale Distribution has plenty of weapons not only to defend when pushing the limit of customer services but also to grow, attacking new channels, typically with the Smart Vending machines. The wind of change is just starting.