It's finally dropped below freezing in the Northeast, and I for one know my grocery shopping habits are changing. During the warmer months, I employ a semi-daily shopping routine, grabbing a few items for the next day or so. When the winter comes, however, shopping becomes a more weekly ritual as I stock up and try to stay out of the cold. At the end of the week, I dance the familiar "open fridge, close fridge shuffle." Sometimes it seems like a comedy bit. Or a horror story, depending on your perspective:
He opens the fridge, and analyzes each shelf. Bottled pickles. A half-empty half-gallon of milk. The last remains of a container of Parmesan cheese. Ketchup, mustard and relish form a wall of condiments, blocking any "real" food from entering this hellish wasteland. For another day, it seems he will remain hungry. He closes the door and reopens it, hoping this time, another land is concealed inside...
I know I'm not the only one who's lived this nightmare.
Fortunately, Samsung is stepping up to the plate to help alleviate this problem. According to Fast Company, the company rolled out a smart refrigerator at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Dubbed the Family Hub Refrigerator, the new appliance features 21.5-inch touch screen on its front which can be connected to various grocery stores. Family members simply shop for products and then schedule delivery. The fridge even takes pictures every time the fridge door is closed, allowing family members to quickly assess what foods need to be reordered.
In addition to these features, Samsung noted that the fridge will come with an accompanying app for mobile devices that will allow consumers to pre-order food items needed for a meal that they can prepare later when they get home. MasterCard will be the payment and delivery link with grocery stores, which included FreshDirect and ShopRite online grocery shopping services at launch.
The fridge immediately reminded me of Amazon Dash, and is further evidence of the growing demand for Internet of Things devices in the home. For what it's worth, the fridge will also connect to other devices in Samsung's SmartThings home automation platform. Which means you can turn off the lights, keep a family calendar, leave notes and post photos via the fridge's screen. Just like your traditional fridge.
In a world where nearly 70% of people shop online at least monthly, does it surprise you that a market for this device exists? This consumer demand for convenience doesn't even account for the data that can be accrued by grocery chains: you can get a literal snapshot of your customers' fridges, for instance, and develop marketing plans on how to fill them. The possibilities are endless.
And I personally am looking forward to a way to stop the shuffle in the mid-winter months.
Chris is a business writer and market analyst that focuses on the Markets, Legal and Washington sections of the Food Institute Report. In addition, he assists in compiling data for various Food Institute publications throughout the year. He invites you to contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org to talk about anything food-related.
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