Tech Trends for 2017: Programmatic commerce

Retail is changing. In 2017, say goodbye to mundane grocery shopping with the arrival of programmatic commerce and automated purchasing…

Picture this: You go to make a cup of tea and use the last of the milk. Instead of having to pop to the shops or make an online purchase, your fridge can detect that you’re out of milk and places an order for you – adding it to straight to your shopping basket.

It might sound absurd, implausible in fact, but this technology – known as programmatic commerce – is fast becoming a reality and will start to be realised in 2017.

Always busy? Now’s the time to rejoice as this technology can take care of your routine shopping chores automatically.

Don’t buy it? Well we’ve already started to see the beginnings of programmatic commerce…

Earlier this year, we saw the launch of Amazon Dash in the UK. Dash is a small ultra-convenient device which, with a simple push of a button, will re-order your washing powder, toilet roll or one of over 40 products. As the video below demonstrates, Dash gives a new meaning to ‘one-click’ shopping:

But Amazon isn’t stopping there. Alongside Internet of Things (IoT)-connected device Dash, the tech giant has also launched the cloud-based Dash Replenishment Service (DRS).


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This takes interconnected technology up a notch by enabling devices such as a printer to automatically order new supplies of ink cartridges or toner without the owner needing to do anything, not even press a button. Brands already working on integrating DRS include Samsung, Siemens, and Johnson & Johnson.

As ParcelHero’s head of consumer research, David Jinks MILT, puts it: “By putting the choice in the hands of our fridges and washing machines; [retail technology has] just moved a step further.”

How it works

Hugh Fletcher, digital business consultant at e-commerce consultancy Salmon, defines programmatic commerce as: “The idea of Internet of Things-connected devices [that are] able to make smart purchasing decisions based on owners’ predefined preferences automatically.”

Using the Dash Button as an example, the device requires you to connect it to your Wi-Fi and then simply use the Amazon app to select the product that you want to re-order. You can then place the button anywhere in your home, tap it to place an order, and you’ll later receive a mobile notification confirming the item with a delivery date and price. NB: Dash is currently only available to Amazon Prime members.

As more and more people become comfortable with Internet of Things devices (Gartner predicts there will be some 2.7 billion devices connected to the internet by 2020) and accepting of having their personal data shared, it’s likely that programmatic commerce will become part of our everyday lives.

Fletcher agrees and thinks this technology could well be the next big thing for 2017:

“We carried out research showing that 57% of UK consumers say they will be ready for automated purchasing in the next two years, thereby recognising the great potential for smart technology.

“It’s not just food that could be getting a makeover either: fashion and baby care, to name but two, are prime for a digital revolution.”

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