Walmart Ventures Into IoT Commerce With Connected Sensor Patent

What Happened
Walmart has started exploring IoT commerce as it filed a patent describing a system of connected sensors that track CPG product consumption at home. Utilizing a wide range of technology such as radio frequencies, Bluetooth, conventional barcodes, and RFID tags, the sensors will be attached to various products and can alert the customer to restock when they are running low on certain household products. Listed in the patent filing are several scenarios that Walmart envisioned to leverage the sensors to learn more about their customers, including an in-fridge one that tracks food consumption and expirations and a RFID system to monitor how much toothpaste is left.

What Brands Need To Do
As smart home technologies continues to evolve, more and more brands are realizing the big potential that connected devices holds for reaching customers at home and collecting relevant data. Venturing into IoT commerce is a timely move for Walmart, but it still has a long way to go before it can catch up with its arch-rival Amazon. While there is no guarantee if any of the ideas that Walmart outlined in this patent will be brought to market any time soon, at least Walmart is actively exploring this area to further implement an omnichannel approach, a strategy that more brands should adopt, with methods to protect user privacy, to reach consumers and learn more about their consumption habits.

 


Source: The Verge

SXSW 2017: Visa Puts An NFC Payment Chip On A Pair Of Sunglasses

What Happened
Visa has been experimenting with mobile and IoT payments for a while now, previously launching a digital commerce app and collaborating with Brita to built payment into water filters. Today at SXSW, the credit card company showcased its latest creation – a pair of sunglasses with an NFC chip built into the frame. Once linked with a Visa user profile, it can replace plastic cards to complete purchases at NFC-equipped terminals. Visa says it is scouting for a fashion eyewear brand to collaborate on turning this prototype into a viable product.

What Brands Need To Do
While it is highly debatable whether it is a good idea to integrate a credit card chip with easily misplaced items like sunglasses, this prototype points to a future where ordinary devices and objects can become connected via 5G, Bluetooth, or other proximity technologies, and thus able to perform tasks and complete transactions. In fact, Visa has already inked a partnership with IBM to plug Watson’s machine learning smarts into its payment solutions for connected devices.

Imagine a future when your connected home appliances can search for local handyman services when it detects a repairing need, or when your smart fridge automatically order milk from local grocery stores when you’re running low. That future of IoT-powered ecommerce may seem far from us now, but it is an inevitable future that all brands need to start strategizing for. By expanding their messaging to connected devices, brands can establish a consistent presence guiding consumer throughout their customer journey.


Source: Engadget

Pizza Hut Created A Pair Of Connected Sneakers That You Can Order Pizza With

What Happened
Pizza hut has taken the one-click ordering concept to new territories with a pair of bluetooth-enabled sneakers that you can order pizza from. Dubbed Pie Tops, the shoe essentially has an Amazon Dash-like button hidden on the tongue, which people can click to initiate the default order that they have configured with their Pizza Hut mobile app.

What Brands Need To Do
While this is clearly a marketing stunt, Pizza Hut’s pizza-ordering sneakers demonstrate how IoT technologies have made it possible to expand customer touchpoint beyond screens. It points to a future where billions of connected devices, be it your home appliances or the public amenities, will become capable of such ecommerce features. In fact, Visa has already struck a partnership with IBM to fast track the development of the so-called “IoT commerce,” i.e. the kind of automated digital transactions initiated by connected devices according to preset, contextual triggers. For brands, this means it is time to start considering developing an IoT strategy and figure out how connected devices can expand your sales or distribution channel.

 


Source: Engadget

Header image courtesy of Pizza Hut’s YouTube

AT&T Plans Nationwide Debut Of IoT Network By Mid-2017

What Happened
AT&T is planning to roll out LTE-M, an IoT network aimed at linking sensors and other small connected devices online without saddling them with full-scale cellular radios, nationwide by the middle of this year. This debut set to bring widespread IoT connectivity into reality, unleashing a host of opportunities for marketers seeking to tap into the marketing potential of connected IoT devices. Verizon is reportedly also working to launch its own LTE-M network.

What Brands Need To Do
As we witnessed at CES this year, a number of connected home devices are already integrated with Alexa and other voice-based virtual assistant to interact with users. With a highly connected IoT network becoming an immediate reality thanks to AT&T’s plan, more sensors and devices will come online and become able to adopt voice assistant services as their conversational interfaces. This means that brand marketers need to develop a conversational marketing strategy and figure out the right brand voice and tactics to deliver relevant messages and interactive experiences through consumers’ connected devices.

How We Can Help
The Lab has extensive experience in building Alexa Skills and chatbots to reach consumers on conversational interfaces. So much so that we’ve built a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue. The “Miller Time” Alexa Skill we developed with Drizly for Miller Lite is a good example of how Dialogue can help brands build a conversational customer experience, supercharged by our stack of technology partners with best-in-class solutions and an insights engine that extracts business intelligence from conversational data.

If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively reach consumers on conversational interfaces, or to leverage the Lab’s expertise to take on related client opportunities within the IPG Mediabrands, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Holland (samantha@ipglab.com) to schedule a visit to the Lab.

 


Source: GeoMarketing

IBM Partners With Visa To Make Its Waston IoT Platform Commerce-Ready

What Happened
IBM will equip its Watson IoT platform with Visa’s token technology to allow trusted connected devices to complete online orders for users within preconfigured permissions. This partnership will allow IBM to integrate Visa’s token service, which assigns a unique digital identifier to information found on payment cards, with connected devices that are plugged into IBM’s cloud infrastructure. The end result is a lot like Amazon’s Dash Replenishment Service (DRS), only replacing the need for a physical push to trigger the purchases with automation enabled by IBM’s cloud computing and Watson’s A.I. smarts.

What Brands Need To Do
While this partnership hasn’t developed any consumer-facing product yet, both companies see new business models emerging from the inspection of IoT and ecommerce. For example, a retailer can leverage this platform to manage their in-store stocks and optimizing the restocking process. CPG brands, on the other hand, could explore the possibility of leveraging this new platform to bring auto-replenishing packages into consumers’ homes. As A.I.-powered solutions start to percolate into a wide range of devices and platforms, brands will need to pay attention to the new possibility in automation and personalization they are set to unleash across industries.

 


Source: ZDNet

Rebecca Minkoff Debuts Handbags That Unlock Access To Fashion Show

What Happened
Ahead of its Fashion Week show taking place in L.A. last weekend, fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff launched 10 limited edition “Midnighter”-style, “connected” handbags at an exclusive pop-up shop at The Grove. Each handbag comes with a scannable tag that unlocks a ticket to the brand’s spring/summer 2017 runway event. This The initiative is one of the first products to come out the brand’s partnership with fashion branding service Avery Dennison and IoT platform EVRYTHNG, as a part of the companies’ #BornDigital concept that aims to digitize 10 billion items of clothing and accessories over the next three years.

What Brands Need To Do
This is the latest example of fashion brands leveraging IoT and wearable technologies to enhance their design and engage with digital-minded customers. Rebecca Minkoff has been consistently tech-forward in its marketing efforts, previously introducing a new line on Snapchat and leveraging VR and AR technologies to attract online shoppers and promote its Fashion Week event. While this “connected handbag” is admittedly very low-tech in comparison, it nevertheless showcases the tech-savvy marketing strategies the brand employs. More fashion and CPG brands can benefit from adopting a similar approach of using connectivity as a marketing hook and unlock added value for customers at a premium.

 


Source: Forbes

Amazon Pushing Alexa Into Connected Home And Car

What Happened
Amazon has big plans for its voice-activated digital assistant Alexa. The company is seeking partnerships with smart home device makers such as Nucleus to build Alexa Voice Service into their products. This initiative is aimed at positioning Alexa as the central command hub for devices around the smart home space, even the hardware that isn’t made by Amazon. Beyond the home space, Amazon is also actively seeking to integrate Alexa into the connected car. The company has so far established partnerships with BMW and Ford to explore how Alexa can bring voice commands into cars and, in Ford’s case, bridge the gap between smart home and connected car.

What Brands Need To Do
Amazon’s vision of an intelligent assistant is set to push conversational interfaces into new spaces and further infiltrate consumers’ daily lives. In turn, it will give rise to more marketing opportunities for brands to reach customers in cars or at home with branded Alexa skills. As Amazon continues to push Alexa into the smart home and connected car, it is time that brands start working with developers to build branded Alexa skills.

The Lab has extensive experience with building Alexa skills and helping brands navigate the new realities that conversational interfaces are set to bring. If you’re interested in learning more, please reach out and schedule a visit to the Lab. For additional information on how brands can effectively reach consumers on conversational interfaces, please check out the first section of our Outlook 2016.

 


Source: New York Times & The Verge

 

How Brands Can Use Amazon’s New IoT Dash Buttons

What Happened
Amazon is now allowing anyone to create their own Dash Button with the release of a programmable version. While looking pretty much identical to existing Dash Buttons, which enable one-push reordering of products from one of more than 100 brands, the new AWS IoT Button can be programmed to trigger a task or service , such as remotely starting a coffee maker, hailing an Uber ride, or locking the front door, all with a simple tap. These AWS IoT Buttons, which will cost $19.95 each, can also integrate third-party APIs from Twitter, Facebook, or Slack to extend its function to social spheres.

What Brands Need To Do
This new product from Amazon offers a way for brands to create a physical presence in customers’ homes with a one-touch connection to their product or service. For example, an auto brand may devise a button for starting cars remotely or a pizza brand could make a “push-to-order” button (like a physical version of the “Push for Pizza” app). Amazon has made an interesting way for brands to reduce friction in customers’ lives with simple devices that boost loyalty.

 


Source: Wired

Header image is a promotional image courtesy of Amazon

Alexa Connects To More Smart Home Devices

What Happened
Voice control is coming soon to more smart home devices as Amazon adds Smart Home Skill API to Alexa Skills Kit. This will make it easier for makers of smart home gadgets to integrate Amazon’s voice assistant with their products, allowing users to control those devices remotely via voice command. For now, Amazon’s API is limited to thermostats, lights, switches, and plugs. Last week, Alphabet-owned Nest integrated Alexa into its smart thermometers to allow users to adjust the temperature without lifting a finger.  

What Brands Need To Do
According to BI Intelligence estimates, connected-home device shipments will grow at a massive compound annual rate of 67% over the next five years and hit 1.8 billion units shipped in 2019. As the availability of smart home devices rapidly grows, they provide a valuable emerging platform for brands to connect with consumers at home. As Amazon and the developer community continue to build out Alexa’s capabilities and make it more brand-friendly, brands would be smart to get on board with those devices via integrations or partnerships.

For more information on how brands can develop authentic brand voices and navigate the new rules of discovery, check out the Conversational Interfaces section in our Outlook 2016.

 


Source: ZDNet

 

Mattel Makes A Voice-Activated Home For Barbie

What Happened
Mattel is giving Barbie a smart home. The international toymaker unveiled the voice-controlled Hello Dreamhouse for Barbie dolls on Saturday at the New York Toy Fair. Connected to the internet via Wi-Fi, the toy set can allow kids to control several aspects of the house via voice commands, such as turning on the lights or operating the elevator. This isn’t the first time Mattel has dabbled with voice-command toys. Last September, it debuted a new line of Barbie dolls named “Hello Barbie” with speech-recognition and basic conversational skills, which later drew some privacy concerns from parents.

In addition, Mattel also embraced some other emerging technologies, launching the $40 VR View-Master 2.0 that’s compatible with Google Cardboard content, as well as the $299 ThingMaker 3D-printer, a system that allows kids and their parents to print action figures and other DIY toys via an app.

What Brands Need To Do
The new voice-controlled Barbie house serves naturally as a line extension of the conversational Hello Barbie dolls, reaffirming Mattel’s belief in the future of interactive toys. For marketers, the quickening development of such conversational interfaces, which allow users to interact with computers via natural language, presents new challenges and opportunities in reaching consumers.

For more information on how brands can develop authentic brand voices and navigate the new interface, check out the Conversational Interfaces section in our Outlook 2016.

 


Source: Engadget