As businesses reopen and adjust to a hybrid work environment, data gleaned from IoT restrooms can help distributors and their end user customers plan inventory and adjust cleaning schedules based on new traffic and usage analytics.

“With both the people counters and dispensers connected, you really start to understand user behavior,” says Farrell. “It’s important — especially now — to assess consumption in the restroom per visitor. This type of data helps create a broader view of how people are changing their behavior. Are they coming just to wash their hands, or are they also using the toilet stalls?”

Analyzing user restroom habits may raise privacy concerns. However, the majority of people support the use of technology to promote cleanliness and safety — especially during a pandemic. With these goals at the forefront, distributors are at an advantage when selling the concept to customers.

“In light of COVID-19, customers are more actively seeking these types of solutions because they have higher standards to meet than before,” notes Farrell. “Distributors can play a role in helping end users understand what types of solutions are out there, and which can have the biggest impact as they return to business and prepare for keeping everyone safe.”

Attman concurs, stressing that distributors are responsible for educating end users about new and innovative technologies.

“We need to show our clients how these technologies can create a better customer experience and reduce labor costs,” he says.

Attman finds that customers are motivated by these conversations — even though they may not always act on them when they are first introduced.

“Most of our clients believe technology is the answer, not the problem,” he says. “It may not be the right fit for them today, or it might take time to digest the idea, but it is our responsibility as their trusted partner to keep it in front of them.”

In the future, distributors may take on a more active role in accessing and analyzing smart restroom data. According to manufacturers, the technology is capable of integrating customer data with distributors’ order management systems for transactions, such as auto replenishment.

Being able to anticipate customers’ needs and streamline ordering processes is a major selling point for distributors.

“As a distributor you want to be positioned as a solutions provider for your customers,” says Williams. “Technology like IoT provides additional value that the customer may not have been aware of. Having that visibility to real-time usage also helps the distributor build trust.”

Kassandra Kania is a freelancer based in Charlotte, North Carolina. She is a frequent contributor to Sanitary Maintenance.

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