Purchasing robots will drive e-commerce into the background

purchasing robots

Physical devices and AI systems that place their own orders are leading to a ‘megatrend that will have higher significance than digital commerce’, argues analyst firm Gartner in the book, ‘When machines become customers’. How can companies prepare for this? What are the implications for the supply chain? Co-author Don Scheibenreif explains.

We already have printers that order their own ink cartridges when they are running low. Also, digital assistants like Siri or Alexa that search the web for you and buy, at the best price, your favourite football shoes online. Imagine going one step further: self-driving cars that predict their own maintenance, make an appointment at the garage and drive there themselves at night to undergo a service. The impact will be enormous when not only humans but also machines start buying products and services. But what exactly will be the consequences? That’s what two research analysts Don Scheibenreif and Mark Raskino write about in the enthralling book, ‘When machines become customers’.

Besides the technical-organizational aspects of selling to ‘customer bots’ (custobots) and the new business models involved, the authors also address the emotional aspects. Should we as humanity actually be happy with this development? Absolutely, say the Americans because although shopping can be fun, it is usually very boring and tiresome. Especially when it comes to household supplies. Think about it: the bombardment of advertisements; searching the Internet for suppliers of your desired product, comparing them, negotiating the price, the checkout, writing a review. Most people don’t like it. So how gratifying it will be to leave that to a virtual assistant.

If our homes could buy their own energy and cleaning services, if the refrigerator could order its own groceries and if our appliances order their own ‘consumables’, not only will it save a lot of time and mind-numbing work, these machines will be much better buyers. Artificial intelligence (AI)-driven custobots can very quickly analyze a lot of data about products and suppliers and make the perfect selections based on your needs.  … … …

Want to read more?

SCM Q3 2023

Get your digital subscription of 
Supply Chain Movement No. 50 Q3, 2023 now! >>