When the Amazon Dash button was introduced in 2015 there was some scepticism about its potential impact, and although sales through the Wi-Fi-connected automated ordering buttons are relatively modest it is amoung Amazon's fastest growing services. In 2016 there was a 650% year-on-year increase in orders.
Following the trend for ever more convenient ways to pay, Jaguar drivers can now pay for petrol at Shell stations using a cashless payment app. Trials are taking place in the UK that will mean a customer can use the in-vehicle
touch-screen to select how much fuel they need and then pay using Apple Pay or PayPal.
Mercedes Benz has revealed plans for a last-mile delivery solution that involves its 'Vision Van', which houses a number of drones along with items that need to be delivered with a certain radius. The van drives to the relevant location and then acts as a launching pad for the drones
At Ocado’s latest warehouse it has developed a robotics capability that involves autonomous robots moving around above a grid, storing and retrieving crates stacked within the grid. They move in collaborative fashion with each other in order to collect groceries stored beneath them and then bring them to a human picker.
Aware consumers have an increasing number of passwords to remember MasterCard has developed a tool that allows purchasing verification to be done by fingerprint or face recognition. Following trials in the US, Canada and the Netherlands, the scheme has been rolled out to more countries including the UK.
Starbucks continues to develop its mobile Order & Pay app with My Starbucks Barista being added enabling customers to order and pay for food and drink by speaking in a conversational exchange. Starbucks has also added a reorder ‘skill’ on Alexa whereby customers can simply ask for their usual preferred item and it is then ordered.
Food delivery company Deliveroo has expanded its model to include the creation of delivery-only kitchens that will produce food for brands that do not have a presence in specific areas. The plan is to open around 30 such
kitchens that are expected to house six or seven different brands that will each have their own facilities.
The fact that Amazon has filed patents for unmanned airships that would serve as flying warehouses is indicative of how forward looking the company is with its plans to revolutionise logistics. It is also investigating the idea of underwater warehouses and has been experimenting with drone deliveries in the UK.
Retailers talk about frictionless shopping and it is Amazon that is being most progressive in this area with the launch of its Amazon Go format. The store uses sensors - linked to the customer through the Amazon app - that monitor the items they have taken off the shelves. When they leave the store the relevant amount is charged to their account.
Since Amazon’s voice-driven Echo device became widely available in 2015 it has become better known as Alexa and myriad additional ‘skills’ have been added that enable it to do much more than answer questions and order goods from Amazon. Its integration into cars and other retailers’ eco-systems makes it a far-reaching tool. Its capabilities are being stretched even further with the recent introduction of a video camera. The new Echo Look device takes pictures and video when requested and has the potential to process this in order to provide feedback to people on say their fashion outfits.
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