How Pantri Is Uniting Smart Kitchens and Grocers
Want to learn more about the future of smart kitchen technology? Check out this post to learn more about Pantri and uniting smart kitchens and grocers.
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I recently attended IFA, Europe's consumer tradeshow answer to CES. It's a showcase of everything in consumer appliances from hairdryers to smart security systems to vacuum cleaners. I was pleased to see a number of startups present in space that is traditionally occupied by traditional, established electronics, and white good companies.
Many brands were pushing the notion of seamless integration between our digital/virtual and 'in reality' lives, with the notion that technology makes everything faster and easier — especially when it comes to mundane household tasks such as laundry, cooking and shopping. While technology can't yet automate all of our household tasks, one area that many hardware retailers are focusing on is the intersection between the smart kitchen appliances that are (at various levels) monitoring food purchases, consumption and waste, and subscription style services that replace the products as they run low. This includes a refrigerator cam that can alert shoppers when food is due to expire, a smart trash can device that adds items thrown out (via barcode) to the following week's shopping list, and coffee machines that can identify when the coffee beans are low and reorder.
One startup heavily invested in the space is UK's Pantri who offer B2B tech for online grocery retailers and smart appliances through a single agnostic endpoint. The UK is the world's third largest online grocer retail market. While many would like to wax lyrical that buying this way is turning us away from smaller, artisan retailers and produce markets, the reality is that consumers spend at least 1 hour of their week purchasing groceries - 80% of which are regular repetitive purchases.
I spoke to the founder of Pantri, Thomas Cooper, who explained the challenge for both food retailers and smart kitchen device manufacturers:
"For the food tech community as a whole, if you are a startup appliance or smart kitchen device manufacturer, you want to invest all of your time and effort into your device hardware. You then need to build some form of bespoke backend and user interface, such as a smartphone app or website powered by servers running databases and API’s. This second part it is a lot of extra work.
At this point, your device is still useless from a grocery replenishment point of view. So, you now need to talk with the world’s online grocery retailers.
You find that one or two are accommodating, but technologically, it is completely different and each one requires different software. Then, you need to handle all of the patches and updates before you’ve even sold your first product."
Pantri is working to solve this challenge by providing a platform that can connect all of the different appliances to all of the different retailers. They are figuring the connections out once and then maintaining them so retailers and manufacturers only have to worry about a single endpoint. This aims to provide manufacturers and users with an enhanced utility that enables automatic grocery replenishment to take place with minimal barriers.
Thomas explained that currently "the market kitchen and online grocery retail world currently has too many endpoints with differing languages, API interfaces, standards, and updates to make it easy for both parties." For example, a smart kitchen device builder may find that "one or two are accommodating, but technologically is completely different depending on each retailer, and each one requires different software. Then they need to handle all of the patches and updates before they’ve even sold their first product. "
Such capabilities are particularly pertinent for small retailers:
"If you have a smaller scale product — say a startup smart coffee machine manufacturer— they're spending all of their time trying to build out their hardware and tech. For them to then need to go and figure out how to talk to all of the grocery retailers is a task 100x bigger."
As a result, Pantri is aiming to "take data from smart appliances that can track grocery usage and turn it into automatic replenishment orders with online grocery retailers. The advantage being that appliance manufacturers can focus on building fantastic devices and grocery retailers can concentrate on delivering food at great prices, while we concentrate on connecting them together via our common agnostic API platform."
Once the B2B API pairing has been established, the user (B2C side of the business) interacts with Pantri through their dashboard - where rules (like IFTTT) are set up, for example:
"Countdown 1 qty Finish 48 pack dishwasher tablets from tesco.com each time the Siemens Smart Dishwasher runs a cycle and reorder 1 pack when my inventory drops below 5 / 48"
"Reorder 1 qty whole chicken from jimmys-independent-online-farm.co.uk1 week after my candy smart oven cooks a chicken and my Samsung Smart Fridge doesn't contain chicken."
Artisan and Small Grocers Need Not Be Left Behind by the Behemoths
Conversely, a bricks and mortar corner store, farm shop, or even a kitchen table operator will struggle to function in a world of smart devices, as AI and API’s present a daunting new consumer interface. As Thomas notes, "There is the potential for them to be left behind as the Smart Kitchen and automated grocery replenishment takes hold. Yet, at the same time, it has never been easier to sell online and fulfill orders through postal networks that are constantly evolving faster and cheaper services."
Such companies typically approach selling online through eCommerce site providers, such as Shopify, WooCommerce, Big Commerce or Magento. Pantri is currently actively developing plugins to enable Shopify and WooCommerce stores to plug their products straight into the Pantri Dashboard and for orders to be then inserted back into their store interface automatically.
This will then enable a farm shop to sell their produce on a Shopify Store or a craft coffee roaster to sell their bags on their own WooCommerce website, apply for a Pantri Connected Retailer Account, install a plugin on their website and receive orders from Pantri.
Pantri believes that within the next few years, a connected fridge will monitor your milk usage using cameras a special door compartment to track weight when the milk is running low. Similarly, a Wi-Fi-enabled cookie jar could track weight and re-order when a certain fullness threshold is hit. Even a smart toiler roll holder could make sure you’re never caught short, using the spin of the toilet roll to generate enough voltage to send a signal through low power chips and reporting when a light spent roll is replaced with a heavy new roll.
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