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Is There a Larger IoT Potential for Refrigerators?

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Is There a Larger IoT Potential for Refrigerators?

It's easy to just attach the word "smart" to something, but let's dive into the use case, the methodology, and the architecture of how smart fridges can become a reality.

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Earlier this month, I shared the huge amount waste each household faces simply from food that wasn’t consumed. Check out the blog post “Is there real value in smart fridges?” The solution here was simple, put a fridge in the pockets of consumers and they will buy what they need (not what they already have the fridge and forgot about). But, let’s spin the idea further. What is the larger Internet of Things potential for refrigerators?

Meaningful Connections For Consumers

Potential only becomes apparent when we can see the meaning behind connectivity. For example, for consumers it may be great to have the equivalent of a tablet on their fridge (to listen to music in the kitchen, search for recipes etc), but is that really meaningful enough?

When we talk about “meaningful” then for consumers, this means more convenient, a life-hack for them, a positive disruption of how they perform a task or interact with a product. For our smart fridge, this means going beyond the nice-to-have tablet functionality to better, faster and smarter ways to eat and shop.

A smart fridge with cameras and the ability to read labels could create automated shopping lists by knowing what items are staples and should always be in the fridge. It can make suggestions based on past purchases and have a connection straight to your retailer. If consumers don’t know what to cook, how about the smart fridge suggesting meals based on the contents of the fridge? When we think about health, a smart fridge application could work out what food should be eaten based on meal plans (e.g. protein, salt, sugar content, etc.).

Suddenly, the tablet has expanded into how consumer nourish their bodies and how they shop. Disrupting and enhancing how consumers eat and shop.

Meaningful Connections for Retailers

Retailers are eager to get a better understanding of what items are behind the $65 billion refrigerator door (that’s the monthly US household spend on food according to USDA.gov).

Strategically partnering with fridge manufacturers will allow retailers to access the data from the fridges’ cameras (with the right data privacy regulations). This means, knowing what exactly lies behind the door.

Not only that, retailers could become the preferred grocery supplier right on the fridge door. The build of a custom e-commerce app that understands the items that need to be replenished (e.g. staple foods like juice, milk, eggs, etc.), a simple way for consumers to find and add other products as well as knowing when to deliver based on consumer behavior. These are just a handful of options that a retailer could avail of to ensure a consumer remains loyal to a retailer’s smart shopping experience.

The $65 billion refrigerator door now looks a lot more open to retailers.

Meaningful Connections for FMCGs

What if the FMCGs could directly benefit from a smart fridge also? Already, FMCGs and retailers maintain close partnerships to run promotions, new product launches and offers online as well as in-store. With the smart fridge, we’ve moved the store location into the consumer’s home, right onto the fridge door. This means, promotions need to move here, too.

A smart fridge has the data of what is in the fridge and what brands a consumer generally buys. This data is invaluable to FMCGs to create custom promotions. These could reward loyalty, offer an alternative brand at a discounted rate or introduce a new product with a video or other content. Best of all, these are tailored made to consumers which will get more attention and increase conversion rates.

Let’s run that loop: The consumer benefits from great tailored promotions just for them. The retailer fulfills the order and knows what their customer is purchasing while the FMCG has built a stronger customer base for their brand. That’s smart!

Is it Really Possible?

From a technical perspective, yes. Creating the connectivity and applications needed is possible today. This is how it will look:


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