With the growth of ecommerce—first web and then mobile—consumers have made it clear that they enjoy shopping with all the comforts of home. (And let’s face it: there’s nothing like making major purchases while wearing the well-worn pajama pants that you rocked in college.) Now companies are looking to provide even more convenient ways to do so, hoping to strengthen their hold and even carve out a physical presence on your home turf.
Big Names on the Guest List
Like an awkward family party, hopefuls big and small are trying to find their place in your home—from established retailers, etailers and manufacturers, to CPG companies and upstart startups. Much of this growth and optimism is connected to the Internet of Things, giving items like your household appliances the powerful capability to autonomously order MORE things over your wireless network.
Amazon is at the forefront of this movement, introducing a bevy of solutions to help convert the entire home into a shopping ecosystem. These offerings include high-tech devices like…
- Amazon Echo, which can re-order previously purchased Prime-eligible products
- The upcoming Fire TV digital shopping channel, which could offer an intriguing blend of shoppable content
- The more simplistic Dash buttons, which serve as tangible Buy buttons and branded reminders, enabling instant ordering with the push of a button. OEMs like Whirlpool, Samsung and Brita are even creating Dash-enabled devices that recognize the need for refills and reorder via your Amazon account.
Or maybe you’ve heard from time to time about the coming of the smart fridge, which will simplify your life by managing your weekly grocery chores.
Now a surprising player is entering the picture: Anheuser-Busch InBev has announced the release of the Bud Light Bud-e Fridge: a Wi-Fi-enabled fridge that sends real-time updates on your beer supply to your mobile phone. You’ll know how much beer you have on hand, when it’s cold enough to drink, and where you can find the nearest stores to refill your supply. In certain markets, you can even order more Bud Light via your mobile device.
These developments have clear implications for both high and lower involvement purchases. Manufacturers, brands and retailers who can leverage consumer data and digital capabilities to integrate their products into routine behaviors will create stronger loyalty and future consideration for similar offerings. Consumers have become extremely savvy at adopting new ways to streamline their lives and manage purchase needs from home and the desire will continue to grow.
New Kids on Your Block
Lesser-known players are also diving into the fray with their innovations.
- Nourish, a Wi-Fi-enabled touchscreen countertop appliance that mixes and dispenses a personalized blend of powdered nutrients, vitamins, herbs and minerals based on a user’s fitness, nutrition and sleep data. Running low? Nourish automatically orders a refill to be shipped to the user’s home.
- Likewise, the Neo Smart Jar keeps track of how much you’re eating, alerts you when an item is running low or going stale, and recommends content-relevant recipes. The Neo Smart Jar also boasts Zero Touch shopping, which automatically adds an item to your mobile shopping list before you run out. You can buy it from Amazon or consult your list the next time you’re at the grocery store.
Convenience Rules Our Future
When it comes to modern shopping, convenience rules. And that desire for convenience is never fully satisfied, so the shopper, as any true shopper should, will always want more.
So how will next year’s innovation bring more seamless shopping home?
- A store-within-a-store-within-a-home?
- Refrigerator surveillance systems?
- A weight scale that automatically adjusts your shopping list and diet?
- A self-sustaining toiletry container that monitors toothpaste, dental floss, toilet paper, Kleenex, and feminine hygiene products?
- A stamp and envelope reordering system that orders, ironically enough, by email?
Consider testing and refining methods that remove barriers between you and your shoppers, like coming straight into their homes or enabling autonomous purchases. You’ll make shopping less of a chore, and open up more time and opportunities to inspire and encourage shoppers to explore other purchases.
The shortest distance between two points is now Wi-Fi enabled, and that's a very good thing (or Internet of Things) for shoppers and sellers.
Murphy O'Brien is an associate creative director at Momentum Worldwide.