The Robots are Coming Home!
Gary Hawkins, CART
According to an article in Bloomberg Technology (Big Tech is Throwing Money and Talent at Home Robots) today, robots are going to be showing up in our homes within the next two years. Companies like Amazon and Alphabet (Google’s parent company) are funding secret projects to develop robotic assistants for the home. These automated butlers will be speaking with us, taking directions by voice, and able to do a growing number of household chores, going far beyond today’s Roomba.
AI powered robots in the home are positioned to take replenishment to the next level. These ‘tools’ will not only take orders from household members - ‘hey Rosie, we need more Cheerios’ - but be able to suggest, plan, and eventually prepare meals.
What retailers are not prepared for is thinking of AI powered ‘bots as shoppers. We’re seeing early iterations of this as Amazon’s Dash buttons are used by a growing number of households to easily reorder a product, smart appliances automatically reorder supplies through integration with Amazon’s Dash service, and smart refrigerators track product code dates for freshness.
How do retail marketers gain the next shopping trip when the decision maker is Rosie, the real life robotic assistant in the Jetson’s? How do retailers influence what’s in the basket, encourage more shopping trips, and grow loyalty over time? It’s hard to believe that the robotic embodiment of Alexa will respond to promotions or recognition the way humans do.
This quandary is not idle speculation. Voice-based commerce will account for an estimated $2 billion in purchases this year, exploding to a projected $44 billion in annual purchases within the next three years. Marketers are having to face the challenge now of how to influence shopping behavior when the shopper is simply speaking to Alexa (or Google Assistant, etc.) to make purchases.
As if retailers’ don’t have enough challenges to address, now they need to start thinking about how to please Rosie the Maid.
About the Author
Gary Hawkins is the founder and CEO of the Center for Advancing Retail & Technology (CART) and leverages his unique knowledge and view to new technologies to shape the future of FMCG retail. He can be reached at email@example.com
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