News & Views

Meet Pantry Pal: Auto-Replenishment for Anything

When it comes to consumers’ appetite for convenience, it’s hard to beat the appeal of automatic replenishment.

With just a few clicks to set things in motion, users can sit back and let their connected devices track and reorder coffee, dog food, detergent, and a whole host of other must-have items. The process is a boon for brands, too. Auto-replenishment creates steadier revenue streams, and customers who automate their reordering tend to spend more money and stay more loyal.

But if it’s a win-win for consumers and companies alike, why isn’t auto-replenishment used by every brand? It all comes down to the usual suspects: time, resources, and money. Companies have to create the connected product, and DRS connected devices all need a mobile application – usually the most difficult and expensive part of any IoT endeavor. In a tight talent market, developers with the right skills can be tough to find. Development time can be as long as 6-12 months as apps move through multiple revisions, into staging, and pre-production before being ready for an actual launch. These long timelines also have an opportunity cost. Brands that are slower to market may lose customers to competitors with larger development teams and bigger budgets.

As one of only three companies chosen to be in Amazon’s DRS partnership program, Vectorform understands the obstacles and opportunities of auto-replenishment. Our internal teams use DRS in our own products, and we quickly came up against the familiar time and budget constraints so many other firms face. We realized we needed a better, faster, cheaper way to prototype. So we did what we usually do when faced with a challenge like this: we invented the solution. Our Delivery of Things (DoT) platform enables us to rapidly prototype and support IoT devices with auto-replenishment, significantly reducing the time and cost associated with development.

Our first test case, Rumble, was a gadget that turns unconnected washers and dryers into smart IoT devices that automatically reorder detergent pods and dryer sheets. The DoT framework enabled us to cut mobile app development time for Rumble from months to mere weeks, slashing costs as a result. It was an exciting confirmation of our DoT platform, but it was a bit rudimentary. For our second test we used DoT to create a sophisticated smart container we dubbed “Pantry Pal” (see the video). It works by tracking item weight and automatically reordering based on the rules you enter during initial app set-up. The result is a set-it-and-forget-it shopping experience for the user, and a mobile app development process that took a few weeks instead of multiple months.

The game-changing effectiveness of DoT opens doors for brands that haven’t been able to afford the pursuit of auto-replenishment. With time and cost barriers removed, more companies can be free to explore the power of automatic reordering, delivering a seamless shopping experience for their customers and creating a repeatable revenue stream for themselves.

We’re ready to help businesses lower their IoT costs and increase their speed to market in the fast-moving world of smart consumer products. To learn more about auto-replenishment and how Vectorform’s Delivery of Things platform can give your company an edge in the smart home market, check out my latest handbook or reach out to us today.  

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