27. July 2017

The future of e-commerce: Right shoe, may I have a Hawaiian pizza?

The future of e-commerce lies in the Internet of things. Everyday objects, such as a simple button, are being integrated into the shopping process more and more – hence buying consumables or groceries can become a minor matter.

Pizza Hut is making use of this trend and presented their very own technologic innovation on the Tech Festival SXSW in spring 2017: "Pizza Hut Pie Tops" – ordering pizza at the push of a button. Of course, not just any button – no, it is integrated into the tongue of a sneaker. In the app that accompanies the sneakers you can indicate what type of pizza you want. Although the sneakers are "only" a marketing campaign (for the moment), they are symbolic for a proceeding development: the rise of intelligent devices which will increasingly help us to do our shopping.

You probably are familiar with examples such as Amazon Echo, Google Home or chatbots. Although the acceptance and active usage of these technologies still have room for improvement, an unstoppable trend becomes apparent.

However, as a marketer, whom should you focus on if algorithms will buy your toilet paper and your shoe will order a pizza in the future? Whereas the past few decades were characterized by the 'elastic shelf' (the offer by parties such as Zalando appears endless), smart devices will ensure that the offer will be very personalized and therefore narrow.

In that case, is there any point in aiming an advertisement for washing powder at the end consumer? Or will the battle for the consumer be conducted at the head office of companies such as Google? There is the risk that in a few years a small number of companies will not only dominate the digital playing field, but will also have a strong grip on markets such as FMCG.

Due to the increasing role of intelligence, the need to scroll through a large offer of products is disappearing. Why would you still google for various pizzerias if you could order a pizza by just pressing your sneaker once? For the consumer, it is not a problem that this could mean he or she will only buy pizzas from Pizza Hut. However, it does mean that it will be practically impossible for pizzerias to still compete with Pizza Hut, even though their pizzas might taste much better.

The convenience of smart devices and intense personalization ensures that companies can prepare themselves for a battle which will perhaps only have a few winners. It will become more important than ever to be part of the personal preference of consumers. Once you are out of the game, an advertising campaign or a discount will probably not be enough for consumers to buy your products again.

At present, it is not yet known how this battle will develop – and who will ultimately come out as winners.

So, for now: Just enjoy your Hawaiian pizza.

(Lucas Nutbey - TamTam)