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MasterCard Goes To The Fridge

MasterCard seems totally serious about its mission to connect commerce to any device that can connect to the Internet – now and in the future. The company’s latest announcement is Groceries by MasterCard — a partnership with Samsung that brings a new connected grocery-ordering experience into the home – and right at the fridge.

Betty DeVita, Chief Commercial Officer at MasterCard Labs, describes the service to MPD CEO Karen Webster as “a shopping app that lets consumers order food and groceries from the latest line of Samsung refrigerators that are embedded with a 21-1/2-inch screen. [MasterCard has] developed the grocery shopping app that will ultimately be delivered through this connected fridge.”

Developed in partnership between MasterCard Labs and Samsung, Groceries by MasterCard will come preloaded in Samsung’s Family Hub refrigerator.

“It’s really trying to take commerce to its context and leverage off of where a consumer has an extraordinary amount of interaction with their families. In fact, Samsung is calling this the Family Hub set of devices,” DeVita tells Webster, “with their commitment to ensure that all the devices they manufacture are connected by 2020.”

The idea behind this connected hub is that it allows brands to connect with consumers in a new contextual scenario.

“I’m in my kitchen,” DeVita says. “What do I normally have on my fridge, perhaps a schedule of where my kids are, pictures, drawings and you can start to see that the ordering of groceries is a very contextual application. Do I have the ingredients I need for a certain recipe? Can I load them in my cart? You can see us connecting in with some of our celebrity chefs, let’s say Marcus Samuelsson with his recipe for fried chicken, and all of a sudden his recipe is built into the intelligent cart.”

This intelligent cart technology will launch in the Northeast with a number of key merchants, including FreshDirect and ShopRite.

“It also comes with a companion app,” notes DeVita, “that will allow you to enable members of your family — kids, spouse, partner, nanny — to put an order into the intelligent cart and you as the primary owner of the cart can approve.”

The software will also build intelligence over time, remembering what you order and at what cadence so it can recommend products that are appropriate for you and that you’ve been consuming at some level of frequency.

There is also a camera built into the fridge so consumers can visualize exactly what’s in their fridge.

“It really gets into the notion of how we shop as consumers,” says DeVita. “Don’t consumers actually check in the fridge and cupboards before they shop? Of course they do!”

DeVita also notes the potential for health and well-being opportunities around the app as well as other categories that can be built into the technology development roadmap. Grocery ordering is just a piece of the functionality, she explained: “Samsung has this vision of temperature and weather reports for cities you can add, Web browser, messaging, photos, you can watch YouTube. You can start to see the build of the type of articles that would make sense.”

Speaking highly of MasterCard’s partner in the offering, DeVita tells Webster that Samsung “put a number of their assets together by embedding the screen into the appliance.”

She notes that, for MasterCard, it’s about software solutions and doing work with a number of key verticals, including food and beverage, IOT, connected devices.

“One of the key assets we [MasterCard] bring, besides our software developing capabilities and understanding of the consumer,” DeVita continues, “is our connection into 38 million merchants, with an ability to connect into more and more everyday. When you think about our connectivity to our merchants, their devices, our screens, our software, it starts to build a pretty robust partnership with regard to value exchange.”

“We are partners with Samsung in many different verticals and we know they are leaders in fridges,” adds DeVita. “Even those hardcore online shoppers have a bumpy experience between the different apps that exist and the pieces they make up in the physical world.”

Because groceries are an “everyday category” for MasterCard, DeVita believes that the level of frequency makes it an attractive space for both payments providers and merchants. “The technology has finally come to a point that it’s viable to be developing apps that start to change people’s lives and connect them with merchants,” she says.

Furthermore, DeVita has observed that merchants are “extremely excited” about the potential of the MasterCard-Samsung partnership. “These grocers are really looking at this as potential for their leading from a technology standpoint,” she tells Webster. “Because of the size of the screen, you can imagine how the brand can be front and center with the consumer. As they start to offer coupons and special offers, you can imagine the kind of connection they can make in a different context.”

Providing an example of the amount of money a consumer standing in front of his or her fridge could spend in a short amount of time, DeVita shares that for a recent holiday party she used the technology (she was lucky enough to have a prototype in her home for several weeks) to purchase party platters.

“I spent about $150 in just under 3 minutes,” she says, acknowledging that she is a “power-shopper.” “Think of the other segments that would be possible.”

It does seem to offer attractive access to consumers — and the ability for brands to fill a need for a product as soon as it arises in the home. As the Family Hub continues to expand in the coming years, it will be an interesting product line to follow.

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