Space age technology isn’t just for gadgets and games—it’s changing the way consumers perform everyday tasks like grocery shopping.
Retailers, credit card processors and manufacturers are answering consumers’ call for work-life balance by using technology to raise the bar for convenience.
In many cases, consumers don’t need to leave the house at all. Thanks to e-commerce, anyone with a computer or mobile phone can order groceries 24/7. A 2015 study by Nielsen found that a quarter of online respondents ordered grocery products online, and 55 percent were willing to do their grocery shopping online in the future.
Remembering when to order can be easy, too, with the help of IoT. Some connected refrigerators allow consumers to share grocery lists, set reminders for expired foods and even order directly from the built-in interface.
There will be over 26 billion connected devices by 2020, according to Gartner, and the IoT market will be worth $151 billion.
Ordering through Amazon Echo eliminates the interface altogether. The retail giant, in particular, is investing in convenience by allowing consumers to order products at the touch of a button or the sound of their voice. Amazon Dash Wands and buttons can be placed anywhere in the home and pressed to automatically re-order anything from toilet paper to milk.
Since acquiring Whole Foods in August, Amazon has been cutting prices and offering same-day delivery in some areas. In a letter to investors Wednesday, financial services firm Credit Suisse raised its price target for Amazon to the second highest on Wall Street.
“The product development perspective is that while most of the headlines around the Whole Foods acquisition have been about price cuts, we believe the real path for Amazon to create lasting shareholder value is through fulfillment and delivery via Prime Now,” wrote Credit Suisse analyst Stephen Ju. “Hence, while price cuts capture the headlines, we submit that Amazon will wage war with its competitors with service instead.”
Grocery Shopping To Go
For those who do venture outdoors, retailers are working to make the process as convenient as possible.
Amazon Go is an experimental store in Seattle that allows customers to walk in and out without ever having to stand in a check-out line. Using the Amazon Go app, the store recognizes when a customer has arrived and tracks the items they take. When the customer finishes their grocery shopping and leaves, those items are then charged to their accounts.
Cashless payments offer another way to speed up the check-out process, turning a user’s smartphone into a wallet. PricewaterhouseCoopers predicts that by 2019, there will be over a billion global mobile proximity payment users and that 85 percent of transactions will be near field communication (NFC)-based.
Before the consumer makes it to the check-out line—or bypasses it altogether—retailers want to encourage discovery and impulse buys.
Beacons are wireless devices that track and respond to apps or items within their vicinity, such as a person’s smartphone. Many retailers such as Walmart, Target and Home Depot use beacons to recognize when a customer enters the store and push special offers on their smartphone.
Retailers have clear incentives to adopt new technologies. After all—if it’s easier to shop, it’s easier to spend.