Merchant Innovation

CES Shows the Power of Connected Commerce

smart home AI tech

Homes are getting smarter as the Internet of Things expands, and that has major implications for payments and commerce. Examples of that are coming fast and furious this week at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2020 in Las Vegas.

As you can imagine, the kitchen is an anchor point of the smart home trend. And as CES, there are examples of the smart kitchen combining with artificial intelligence. Indeed, according to a statement, “Bosch and AI-kitchen assistant startup Chefling Inc. will demonstrate for the first time at CES newly added inventory management technology in their connected smart kitchen solution.” More specifically, “the latest technology uses in-refrigerator image recognition to recognize newly added and removed items and automatically update inventory lists and streamline replenishment. This connection is empowered by Home Connect and can be used with any refrigerator that is equipped with a camera and is connected by Home Connect.”

Beds, too, are getting smarter — as DUX, a Swedish luxury bedmaker, intends to show at this year’s CES. “DUX Beds are hand-crafted to provide unparalleled sleeping conditions that are based on decades of research and testing. At CES 2020, DUX will merge its high-performance sleeping system and hand-crafted headboards with smart home technology to enable users to create the ultimate sleeping environment,” according to another statement.

Connected Commerce

All this is happening as the home becomes a bigger center of connected commerce, as PYMNTS has regularly covered.

First, let’s revisit the news, just in case you might have missed it. Amazon, Google, Apple and the Zigbee Alliance unveiled a new working group to promote the adoption of a new royalty-free connectivity standard to make smart home products more compatible with security as a design tenet. Zigbee Alliance board member companies like IKEA, Samsung SmartThings and Silicon Labs, among others, are also on board to join the working group to make contributions to the effort, according to the Dec. 18 announcement.

The idea is to promote compatibility for consumers and make smart home development in general simpler for manufacturers. The group’s activities are supposed to be centered around the idea that smart home devices should be seamless, reliable and secure. Interoperability, compatibility and open sources are among the lodestones for this effort. According to the announcement about the creation of this effort, “by building upon Internet Protocol (IP), the project aims to enable communication across smart home devices, mobile apps and cloud services and to define a specific set of IP-based networking technologies for device certification.”

Connected devices are helping to fuel that trend.

Not only has the share of consumers who own connected devices more than doubled since 2017, but they are also more likely to use those connected devices to make eCommerce purchases. Roughly one in every 10 consumers today uses voice-enabled devices and apps to browse, shop and buy goods online. It’s a remarkable acceleration of a technology that is still relatively young, and for which the use cases for commerce are both nascent and very much evolving. It would hardly seem wise to bet against the further rise of such technology in the 2020s.

Daily Routines

Another big data point shows how smart homes are set to become a more significant part of the payments and commerce landscape, and why those big companies are trying to find a way to play nice together, at least on this issue, and at least for now. PYMNTS research has found that 76 percent of consumers make purchases while going about their daily routines. That matters because there are few things more routine than all the chores and tasks we all do while inside our homes — tasks that can turn into payments and commerce opportunities thanks to such technology as voice-assisted devices.

TV streaming also plays a big role in this trend, as reflected at the ongoing CES Las Vegas event. According to one report, TiVo’s “Stream 4K, announced at CES 2020, ditches TV recording altogether. Instead, the Stream 4K integrates with the Sling TV streaming service and uses a customized version of Android TV to aggregate your streamed content. TiVo wants to become known as a content aggregator, putting all of your streaming "bundles" in a single, easy-to-browse place. To do this, it has partnered with Google and integrated the company's search and metadata technology over the top of the Android TV operating system.”

That’s not all going on with streaming, either within or without CES.

Amazon Move

According to a report, the Amazon Fire TV platform from the eCommerce operator “now has over 40 million users. That’s up from the 34 million it claimed in May 2019 and more than the 32.3 million active accounts Roku reported during its Q3 2019 results this past November.” As the report notes, Roku and Amazon Fire TV are competitors in the streaming world.

As well, the report adds, “Roku’s ‘active accounts’ figure describes those accounts where users have streamed at least once during the past 30 days, but Roku notes that one Roku account may be shared by multiple members of the same household. However, the same can be said for Fire TV, which, like Roku, doesn’t offer an easy interface for switching between different user profiles in order to create a personalized home screen or watch list.”

Subscription commerce, too – part of the streaming world – is undergoing general change and development. According to PYMNTS’ Subscription Commerce Conversion Index, in Q2 2019, the subscription marketplace competition got tighter, with fewer new providers entering or leaving compared to previous quarters.

Consumers might be maxed out on subscription commerce, but that hasn’t stopped startups from making a go of it in new and unexpected ways. The latest Recurring Global Payments Tracker details the efforts made by subscription commerce companies and looks at emerging models across verticals.

There is no doubt — as CES and other recent news demonstrates — that homes are getting smarts and that payments and commerce are along for the ride.

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NEW PYMNTS DATA: HOW WE SHOP – SEPTEMBER 2020 

The How We Shop Report, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, aims to understand how consumers of all ages and incomes are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research builds on a series of studies conducted since March, surveying more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences are changing as the crisis continues. This report focuses on our latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.

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