An everyday B2B scenario in commerce

At commercetools, we’re always thinking about how the future of commerce is shaping in the upcoming years. We strongly believe in a fundamental change which will be driven by a more customer centric approach when designing commerce scenarios. As a small example, I would like to tell you a story of a typical B2B case, which will be quite normal in less than five years. It illustrates the huge advantages and productivity gains originating in usage of API technology and connected devices to assist in our everyday work.

Thomas is a tile man currently working on a bathroom and adding some final touches. He and his colleagues are tiling on the last floor of a newly constructed building and want to finish today the last 3 bathrooms. He’s checking the remaining two pallets of tiles and makes an alarming discovery: One of the pallets was delivered in the wrong color. Under this circumstances, the current plan cannot be accomplished.

Thomas’ pulls out a new device which he uses to scan the barcode of the pallet with the correct color. Besides the scan, he also presses the “Express” button and briefly adds a voice message with the current situation and why it’s important to receive the correct pallet within the next 3h to finish the work they have planned today.

Cropped Bagatelle MALLA 7x3 by “Handtrade By FG” / CC BY

A few kilometres away in the headquarter of Thomas’ company, his boss Dave is currently preparing some accounting documents on his desktop. His smartwatch vibrates and informs him briefly about a new express order, he should immediately look at. He grabs his tablet and opens the app of “DIY-Store”, which is the company also provided the device Thomas has used before. The express order was opened directly and Dave is checking the items list. He also listens to the voice message created by Thomas and understands the urgency of his order.

The app informs him, the pallet could be delivered in about 1:30h, as the underlying service knows about the availability in the nearest “DIY-Store” and some delivery parameters. It involves basic indicators like picking and commissioning time and the availability in the nearest store, which was selected based on the location of Thomas when he issued the express order. This was also automatically selected as delivery address. In addition, availability of express delivery providers and the current traffic situation as well as calculated traffic forecasts were included in the approximate delivery time. As Dave’s company is long time customer with “DIY-Store”, he receives discounts based on a framework treaty for the tiles and the express delivery option. So he confirms the order with just the push of a button.

In the “DIY-Store”, Rebecca receives a notification while crossing the warehouse. An express order was placed and the delivery provider already scheduled the arrival of the transport in 15 minutes, so she has to hurry. Luckily, her picking device automatically received all order related information and the location of the bespoken item in the warehouse. As Rebecca cannot lift the pallet with her bare hands, the in-store navigation includes a small detour to get an electrical pallet truck to conveniently move the tiles. She reaches the loading dock just in time with the delivery driver arriving at the same moment. When ordering the transport, the service knew about the measurements of the pallet and included this information in the requests so that the delivery vehicle has enough space to easily accommodate the goods. After 10 more minutes, the pallet is uploaded and the driver leaves the “DIY-Store”.

As expected, there is small jam on the highway, but this was already included in the traffic calculations. The transport reaches the construction site in time and Thomas is happily receiving his missing tiles to finish up the work today.

Sounds like a decent commerce scenario with a lot of customer benefit, doesn’t it? If you wonder what is still missing to accomplish such a scenario today, the answer is quite easy: nothing, everything is already available!

  • Devices such as Amazon Dash are enabling easy access to large product catalogues and ordering options
  • UberRUSH as express delivery provider can be triggered via API and offers express transport in certain areas with a high availability
  • Destination calculation by Google Maps includes forecasted traffic information and is also available via API

So let’s get it on!

If you have other scenarios in mind or want to discuss future of commerce, just get in contact: Twitter // LinkedIn