Planning for the internet of things is one way supply chain companies can get ahead in their competitive sector, says Katie Barker.

Earlier this month, Amazon announced the launch of its home ordering button Dash for Amazon Prime customers in the US. Customers can use the button to quickly replenish items such as coffee capsules, razor blades and toilet roll.

The Amazon Dash button uses the Amazon app on a smartphone to connect to a home wi-fi network. Customers select the product they want to reorder and when stocks get low, users can press the button that automatically places an order of the item. The order will then be delivered the next day.

The idea behind Dash is to automate the shopping process and it means customers have to think very little about replenishing everyday household goods.

The Dash button is one type of device that forms part of the internet of things, which will see connected devices such as household appliances and smart devices connect with one another via the internet.

IT infrastructure

But there are challenges to making this work in the physical world; not least the need for extremely up-to-date ordering and delivery IT infrastructure. Next-day delivery requires clear stock visibility, a highly mobilised delivery network and a good overview of the whole system from end to end for retailers.

With the right IT infrastructure in place, there may also be an opportunity for retailers and their supply chains to provide an even better service to consumers through using the data they get from connected devices.

The internet of things, while still in the very early stages of development and adoption, could allow retailers to forecast customer shopping habits more effectively and so better prepare for meeting and exceeding customers’ expectations.  

It has the potential to allow retailers to wow customers through greater personalisation, but it also allows supply chains to plan effectively, get a greater insight into consumers’ preferences and ultimately offer a better service to customers.

For those looking to get ahead in the competitive supply chain arena, early planning for the internet of things is one way to stay competitive.