Could you imagine a life where you never had to go to the grocery store again? You might since there are companies popping up all over the place that do your grocery shopping for you after you place your order online.
But could you imagine never having to make a list of what you need or think about if you need to buy toothpaste or toilet paper again soon?
Wal-Mart has begun to seek a patent for a unique type of technology that tracks how much and how often a person uses common products they buy such as toothpaste, paper towels, or even shoes. From there, the tech automatically places an order before you completely run out of the product and suggest new products as well it believes you would like.
This technology relies on small sensors on the packaging to help track how much you use a product, how often and how much is left. The tech is similar to Amazon’s Dash Button technology. However, Wal-Mart’s version is different since you do not have to actually “push” the button to reorder, instead, it is automatic.
As the data is collected, it can also help Wal-Mart and manufactures have a better understanding of their customers usage habit. In return, these companies can better tailor their products to their customers and improve customer service experiences more than ever before.
One of the biggest issues we see regarding this technology is the issue of privacy. These special sensors would be required to be in customers’ homes and to track a person’s usage of a product very closely. Many people may feel uncomfortable with this much information being tracked about how they use a certain product right in their own home.
We also see issues when it comes to brand loyalty and ordering the same products over and over again. This type of reordering process tends to overestimate how loyal customers are to certain brands. For example, you may buy the same brand of paper towels for a few months, but then you want to switch to a new brand you just came across. Millennials are especially notorious for shopping around and wanting to try new brands and millennials are also the most likely to use this type of tech. Therefore, if millennials aren’t as loyal to a brand this type of automatic reordering may be a barrier for the tech Wal-Mart wishes to produce.
Although this technology is a bit different, it is still similar enough to Amazon’s dash buttons that we may see a lot of competition between these two giants. Both companies offer automatic or quick reordering options on the most popular brands and common household items. People are more likely to buy from Amazon with free two-day shipping for Prime members and often the prices on Amazon are better than we see with Wal-Mart.
It remains to be seen which megastore will prevail in the end.
In the end, product reordering and automatic reordering is becoming much more commonplace in our world today than it has ever been.
Although there are still kinks to work out and improvements to be made with this rather new technology, people are increasingly using these services as people become lazier and less motivated to go shopping in stores or having to worry about buying or ordering toilet paper every month.
Only time will tell if Wal-Mart’s new patent will take effect in the next few years and how customers will actually feel about using the service.