Commentary

Smart Kitchen Commerce Targets Retailers At NRF

Some smart appliances may find their way into consumer homes without the consumer having to pay.

The idea is that retailers may provide their customers with a smart ordering device, similar in functionality to Amazon’s Echo, but with products ordered coming from the retailer.

Rather than marketing the product to consumers, NCR and Freshub are jointly marketing it to retailers, most notably in a major display at the National Retail Federation Big Show at the Javits Center in New York this week.

“This is to connect the retailer to the home consumer,” Roger Walker, strategic product manager of food, drug and mass merchandise in the retail systems division of NCR, said as he walked me through the company’s IoT-related strategy.

The Freshhub is a smart kitchen appliance but one that acts as a link between a consumer and their favorite retailer.

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The pitch at the NRF show was to retailers, for them to consider purchasing the smart kitchen appliance and giving them to customers, presumably the best of the lot.

Freshub had some data to support its argument: a pilot test shows that 75% of consumers with the system still were using it six months in, the number of orders per month went up and the amount spent per month went from $372 to $440. Translated, that’s more than $800 per customer per year.

The smart device, a bit bigger than a Bose radio, has an interactive screen on top and speakers for music and voice all around the sides. It has a wave-to-cart feature or ordering or adding products to a grocery list can be done by voice.

From the retailers’ viewpoint, the smart appliance provides all-the-time access to store inventory from the kitchen.

As a major point-of-sale provider globally, NCR already has relationships with retailers so this is about adding more up-stream capabilities.

The interesting twist here is that the IoT driver is not the end consumer looking for more innovative and efficient ways to shop, but rather the retailer looking to leverage the Internet of Things to more dynamically link their customers with their desired supplies.  

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