Many manufacturers today are worried about survival–and they’re not over-reacting. Online marketplaces like Amazon are undercutting prices and offering business customers the same streamlined shopping and buying options for industrial equipment and supplies that buyers of books and electronics have learned to take for granted. As the owner of a parts and supply business said to me recently, “I could sell our products through Amazon, but they take such a big cut, what’s the point? I can’t make a profit.” B2B is undergoing seismic change, and it’s worth heeding Carl Sagan’s famous warning: “Extinction is the rule. Survival is the Exception.”
It’s time to take a lesson from the energy and cooperation that the human instinct for survival can inspire. Go back to cave days. People have basic needs: water, food, shelter, clothing. Almost immediately, they needed to defend those resources. So, they learned to cooperate: When the enemy comes, members of a community agree to stand shoulder to shoulder and fight.
Over time and with growing numbers, people need more than they can produce independently. An economy is born from barter: I’ll trade you a bushel of my apples for a string of fish. You train my horse, I’ll build your fence. Needs become more complex. People have to barter with strangers and it gets tough to trade goods so somebody invents a currency to speed up transactions. Banks are born. You want things you don’t have enough money to pay for—loans and credit systems appear. At some point purchase orders and Paypal happen.
Many B2B companies of every size today are facing Internet-driven disruptions. What some don’t yet realize is cooperation is again going to be key for survival. But cooperation 2.0 is going to mean electronically standing shoulder to shoulder with customers and business partners, not traditional middlemen who are becoming an excessive drain on profits.
My prediction: Blockchain technology will be one of their most powerful business survival tools for the 21st century. It creates new and secure ways for companies to connect with and serve customers better. And, because it can support its own currency, new business communities will evolve and inject new kinds of creativity and efficiencies into online marketplaces. They’ll attract and keep customers in new ways.
At Inxeption, we’re laying the groundwork for these exciting new capabilities and collaborations. Our I-commerce platform (the “I” stands for industrial strength e-commerce), can bring companies more business from search-based marketing initiatives; provide a single screen window on data analytics, inventory, product specifications, customer questions and chat; and even integrate logistics support for more transparent and easy shipping. These tools will connect companies more directly with their customers so they can collaborate about many issues, from customization, to adding features or product offerings, to special shipping needs, to innovating entirely new products that will benefit both partners. Speaking of innovation, we are creating tokens for our platform that will be a creative tool to reduce transaction frictions. Our customers will earn these ”Work” tokens that can be used within the Inxeption Business Community or IBC; they can be used as payment to Inxeption but also traded among companies that are part of the IBC to build loyalty and access unique services. These tokens have the inherent, verifiable security of any blockchain-backed cryptocurrency.
Don’t confuse these tokens with the speculative investing surges and retreats that have characterized Bitcoin and some cryptos. Work tokens are about work. They create a way for Inxeption to reward customer loyalty and business partnerships. We issue tokens and then we set base values—allowing our customers to use tokens to “pay” for services like shipping or higher priority technology support or other specific benefits. But eventually, we imagine tokens becoming the coin of IBC realms controlled by members and organized around different industry segments, marketplaces, and creative new marketing promotions. Tokens will be traded among people with unique assets and service capacity.
You make industrial flooring. I make heavy-duty vacuums and floor polishing equipment. Another IBC member sells work mats and ramps. We all use Inxeption’s platform and collect Work tokens reflecting our participation. Instead of selling exclusively through distributors and middlemen at high costs, with Inxeption we can work together and create an I-commerce presence that captures customers searching for industrial flooring needs, and shows them not only what they’re looking for, but other products and services they may want. Each of us owns our own customers, but we also benefit by showing our customers our partners’ complimentary offerings. Think about Amazon reminding you that “People who buy this book on Great North American hikes also buy hiking poles and broad-brimmed hats.” Except in an IBC you’re not handing your customer over to a middleman like Amazon, you’re creating and managing your own marketplace secured by blockchain.
Our token platform creates a community that can collaborate, reward customer loyalty, and bypass purchase orders and reduce many forms of friction in business. Tokens can bind people in a shared mission where each token-holder has a stake in the success of every token-holder. And because the whole platform is built on blockchain, business data is safe, but can be selectively shared with partners. This is a far cry from today’s inefficient channels where distributors and intermediaries have more data about your customers than you do.
As early humans discovered, creating an organized, defensible village is an important survival advantage. The Inxeption platform not only creates and nurtures that community, blockchain means all parties can work together and yet each can still protect the privacy of its customer data. Blockchain works at every scale on the Inxeption platform to keep a reliable, verified ledger of transactions and help you better use the data you need to communicate, collaborate, survive–and thrive.