Remodeling your kitchen – rather than granite think smart counter tops

In a report we recently published we looked at how the Internet of Things (IoT) would impact the retail world. One area we focused on was the food and grocery portion of retail. An idea we explored was how IoT could allow grocers and other players within the food supply chain to extend their reach beyond the store shelf and into the shelves in our pantries and refrigerators. Eventually grocers and manufacturers could leverage this connectivity to better understand demand patterns, usage and even correlations between different items. This use case has taken another step closer to becoming a reality.

Companies like Orange Chef have started to market and sell “smart counters.” Granted the one offered by Orange Chef is more of a chopping block sized device for your kitchen, but let us project out into the future. These counter tops aren’t so much about whether or not you want black granite, Azul Macauba or a fine Italian marble, but how many sensors, beacons and connected nodes your new kitchen counter tops will contain. The smart counter top will be able to identify what you are placing on it. For example you may place on it a nice

About to get a whole lot smarter!

About to get a whole lot smarter!

salmon steak or some lamb shanks. The smart counter will then be able to offer you ways to prepare the food offering you recipes and other items you may want to include. The counter will also be able to tie back into your wearables as well as other applications. Training to run a marathon and using your smart phone to keep track of your progress – maybe that bacon isn’t what you should be eating this close to race day – your counter top will tell your phone or wearable, which will tell you. Trying to cut back on red meat – the smart counter will keep tabs on what you are preparing for your dinner. This is a great example of the kitchen becoming smarter and more interactive.

It is not a big leap to go from the kitchen and your counter top being proactive in your meal preparation to being tied into a larger network – say in your neighborhood – that would communicate with local grocers and even distributors to better manage what they stock. Maybe the paleo diet is catching on your neighborhood, if the smart kitchens figure this out, the local stores might want to ramp down on some of their processed food orders.

Of course this will also come with the expected questions around privacy and information sharing. Will consumers trust the likes of Tyson Foods, Mondelez, Kraft, Dannon and other large food providers to have access to such data? If these companies or a third party (think Nest for your grocery bill) can demonstrate or help consumers with their spending then consumers will become more at ease with sharing their information. The fact that households in the United States spend on average $166 a month on energy – the target for Nest – yet they spend 30% more a month on their grocery bill (based on U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) would indicate that there is an opportunity for enhanced intelligence to be applied to this sector. IoT empowered devices could bridge that last consumer mile for grocers, CPG and food manufacturers.

We wouldn’t just have our mothers and significant others to remind us that late night ice cream isn’t good for us, our smart kitchen will do it as well.



Filed under Consumer Product Goods, IoT, Retail, Supply Chain, Wearables

5 responses to “Remodeling your kitchen – rather than granite think smart counter tops

  1. matty ice

    Amazon might have smart counters beat to the punch already ….…. an option that doesn’t involve companies knowing what people are eating, just the need for the product itself. Also don’t companies like Tyson and the above mentioned already have sales data from POS transactions at the grocery store? What would be the benefit of them knowing what’s on our counter? However I do like the idea of the counter keeping you on track with your diet… it’d be like having a second wife in the house. Nicely done sir.


  2. Thanks for the comment Mr Ice, to your question about why the likes of Tyson food would like to know about what is on our counter. CPG and Grocers have data up to the POS system, but they do not know how the products are being used within our homes. There is no data with regards to how the inventory is being depleted and in what manner. If these companies started pulling this data, coupled with their other data streams – they can create a much richer picture of the extended supply chain. Understand what to produce, promote and replenish with greater insights. POS data stops at the store’s door.


  3. matty ice

    Do companies really care how their products are being used? Or do they just care if they are being sold? Won’t repurchase orders give you a statistics on inventory depletion? I guess, the trouble I am having is when you talk about the full picture of the supply chain I’m not seeing the benefit of the home statistics or what a home statistic would even be.


    • Being sold is the first priority – but companies absolutely want to understand how the products are being used. Are they used as stand alones? Are they used in conjunction with other goods? Grocers constantly seek relationships between how products are being bought. Simple example – if lots of hamburger patties are being sold, we expect hamburger buns to also be sold as well as less correlated products: ketchup, mustard, chips, pickles but what about antacids? Do those sales go up a few days later?

      This is all data from POS systems. Take this into the home. A consumer purchases eggs but why? Make a lot of scrambled eggs or is it for making pancakes or a souffle? Egg producers such as Cal-Maine Foods could leverage this data and work with grocers to better promote and market their eggs. Understanding the usage data they might determine that in area code 02215 most eggs are being used for breakfasts, so potentially market eggs in combination with bagels and english muffins. But in area code 90210, eggs are used more for making souffles and cakes – maybe look to market cooking classes in that area.

      As for purchasing systems and traditional order management systems, those give some insight for CPG companies into when they need to produce and ship products, but don’t forget these are often based on guesses. How much will we need of product X? When? What quantity? Since we do not have true user data – aka how products are being used, depleted and what is the time between end of usage and replenishment – we need to guess on when products need to be put back on the store shelf. Since margins are also very thin, the more insight and the more accuracy that can be gathered the better business decisions can be made.

      Hope this helps.


  4. matty ice

    Awesome thanks for the clarification and connecting the dots.


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