Wal-Mart Sensors Will Alert You When You’re Running Low On Goods

Wal-Mart Sensors Will Alert You When You’re Running Low On Goods
Retail

Wal-Mart is filing a patent for automatic ordering that will directly rival Amazon Dash

Anna Johansson
  • 12 may 2017

It’s only been a couple of years since Amazon introduced their Dash system, which can order things like printer ink or laundry detergent at the push of a button, so it was only a matter of time before other major retailers hopped on the bandwagon. Now, Wal-Mart is introducing sensor technology that will note when products like milk are about to expire and send you more.

This information comes from a patent application that requests ownership of sensor technology to be placed in the homes of customers. It’s a system that will function similar to the Amazon Dash technology, but it’s meant to encompass more products. It will also quietly collect consumer behavioral data to help them better market their products and services.

How does this patent technology differ from the one used by Amazon Dash? It primarily differs in its purpose. The Dash button was placed in a single location and conveyed a certain function: ordering a specific item such as laundry detergent. You need hundreds of Dash buttons at $4.99 apiece to refill your pantry and cleaning closet, and you can’t place a second order until the first one has arrived. This means if you want an extra order of Pop-Tarts because you’re hosting guests for a weekend, you have to go to the store or manually order them.

It also differs on the data collection side. Dash only allows consumers to push a button to order new products, but Wal-Mart’s sensor tech will track how often a product is used, where it spends time around the house, and what the consumer might purchase next.

Rather than consciously pushing Dash buttons to order products, this is a much more passive approach. According to Wal-Mart’s patent filing, the consumer wouldn’t manually push a button. Instead, the data will signal a need for more products. It’s kind of like a subscription service, but it only comes when the product is actually needed.

The patent application used the example of an article of clothing. Each article could be tagged and tracked to see how many times the product is worn and washed. This will indicate the need for new clothing and other household items like laundry detergent. Once it reaches the base threshold pre-determined by the manufacturer, it will automatically order these new products.

It also mentioned a gallon of milk. When the carton reaches its “sell by” date, it will send a series of alerts. The first would remind the owner to drink the remainder quickly before it goes bad and the second would be a reminder to order new milk.

When compared with Amazon Dash, this is a very good idea. The Dash buttons were expensive and annoying at best. They weren’t attractive to place around your home, and if you forget to press the button, you’ll be out of whatever product you need before the new item arrives.

Wal-Mart’s technology will be hidden within the product. It will be nearly invisible and will send alerts to remind you to make purchases. The price of such a product isn’t clear since the patent hasn’t been cleared, but consumers are hopeful that, per Wal-Mart’s usual, the products will be more affordable than the Dash buttons.

It’s important to recognize that this is just a patent filing, as of now. Many patents never go on to be real products, so there is a small chance that we won’t see this come to fruition. However, knowing Wal-Mart’s desire to remain competitive with Amazon, it wouldn’t be surprising to see this product on the market in the next couple of years.

Additionally, Wal-Mart’s brand is just as strong, if not stronger than Amazon’s brand. People have come to recognize the consistency, low cost, and reliability of Wal-Mart’s brand, and that could single-handedly carry forth the popularity of their products. Their highly recognizable brand makes any product more familiar, giving them a jumpstart that could truly compete against Amazon’s Dash button.

It shouldn’t be long before this device emerges. The patent was filed in October and made public just last week. If this device develops, as it’s very likely to do so, we’ll see a fiercely competitive battle between the largest online retailer and the biggest brick-and-mortar retail chain in the world.

Wal-Mart

It’s only been a couple of years since Amazon introduced their Dash system, which can order things like printer ink or laundry detergent at the push of a button, so it was only a matter of time before other major retailers hopped on the bandwagon. Now, Wal-Mart is introducing sensor technology that will note when products like milk are about to expire and send you more.

+retail
+technology
+USA
+Wal-Mart
+Walmart

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