Insight: IoT smart shopping mainstream within 2 years

More than half of UK consumers say they’ll be ready within the next two years for a new age of smart shopping, in which devices connected via the Internet of Things will reorder items as they run low, a new study suggests.

Research by digital agency Salmon, which comes a day after the UK launch of the Internet of Things-connected Amazon Dash Button and the related Amazon Dash replenishment service, suggests that 13 per cent of UK shoppers are ready now for what the agency has dubbed ‘programmatic commerce,’ in which connected devices such as a smart fridge or coffee machine might reorder products from milk to fresh coffee when supplies run low.

More than half (57 per cent) of the 2,000 UK consumers questioned said they’d be ready now, and 58 per cent said they’d be more likely to buy into smart technology if it would enable this kind of shopping, while 35 per cent said they already had such a device in their homes, or planned to buy one in the coming year.

When asked what they’d like to order using smart shopping, 54 per cent said household supplies, the same number as named food and drink, while 34 per cent said they’d opt for beauty, healthcare and personal hygiene products. Priority considerations would include cost – important for 50 per cent, while only 25 per cent prioritised brand. Brand is key for the Amazon Dash Button approach, since each button is specific to a branded product.

Consumers would have concerns about smart shopping: more than half (54 per cent) named their lack of control over purchases, while 51 per cent cited security and 51 per cent privacy of their personal data. But they also see advantages: 37 per cent said it would save time, 25 per cent said it would be convenient and 37 per cent said they’d save money if such a system automatically selected the cheapest products.

“The rise of digital has been the single greatest change in retail over the past decade. Consumers have wholeheartedly embraced online shopping services for the convenience, time-saving and enjoyment they can bring,” said Neil Stewart, CEO of Salmon. “While we expected consumers to already appreciate the benefits of digital, we have been pleasantly surprised by how ready they are for automated shopping. Our research paints a picture of a sophisticated and engaged consumer, ready to take advantage of the impact of smart technology in their digital shopping.”

How much would consumers be prepared to pay to use such automated services? Six in ten say they wouldn’t pay any kind of fee for the service, but 41 per cent would pay more for a smart device that enabled it.

“Connected devices are growing at an incredible rate, with 26 billion expected to exist by 2020,” said Neil Stewart. “The possibilities that these devices can offer in retail are astounding, from fridges ordering weekly groceries to cars ordering replacement tyres when they are worn down. We have already seen consumer appetite for purchases through connected devices in the launch of Amazon Dash, and Programmatic Commerce will take this further. Brands, retailers and manufacturers must prepare themselves for Programmatic Commerce, both through technology advances and through the partnerships to bring these services into British homes. Consumers will embrace the convenience, and those that offer it first will reap the advantages.”