Smart Shopping Cart – Amazon’s Dash Cart

Raise your hand if you get irritated by long lines at the supermarket checkout. Go ahead – don’t be shy! It would be very rare indeed if all shopping experiences were trouble-free. A major annoyance of shoppers is the checkout process. It should be simple and fast.

In a move intended to shake up the grocery industry, Amazon’s new Dash Carts calculate and pay the bill – meaning no need to stand in any kind of check-out line. The Dash Carts have embedded cameras, sensors, a built-in scale, and a smart display that will automatically tally the items. The smart carts will be available later this year at a planned Amazon grocery store in Los Angeles. The technology is similar to that used at Amazon Go stores with their “Just Walk Out” cashier-less technology.

The carts are easy to use and require little change in shopper behavior. Shoppers use their Amazon account information and smart phone. After entering the store, the shopper scans a QR code in the Amazon app that signs them into the cart and even loads up stored shopping lists from Alexa. The technology speeds up shopping, eliminates checkout and aims to improve the overall shopping experience.

Shop. Exit. Simple.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. This product vividly reminds us of the famous IDEO shopping cart redesign. That video can be found at: https://youtu.be/izjhx17NuSE
  2. The original design was from 1999. Why do students think it never caught on?
  3. Show video of Amazon’s new Dash Cart: https://youtu.be/rQO9u6-KOJk
  4. What are the features similar to the IDEO redesign? Why is this design possible for today’s consumers?
  5. Discuss the purchasing process and the problems with having consumers use new innovation.
  6. Poll students: Is the Dash cart continuous innovation, dynamic innovation, or discontinuous innovation. Why?

Source:  CNET: CNN; Forbes; IMPO; TechCrunch; other news sources

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The Ford Bronco Returns to Action!

As we’ve written in previous articles, no product lives forever. There are always new innovations, trends, social forces, competition, and technologies that push products forward. Every product eventually reaches its final stage in the Product Life Cycle (PLC) – decline/harvest – when the product is put to sleep and resources are reallocated to up-and-coming new products.

But every now and then consumers grow nostalgic for products from the past. Perhaps the product brings back a happy emotion or a strong memory. Or maybe it’s a little bit of longing for days gone by. Or maybe it’s a desire for something different and cool-looking. Trends have a habit of cycling back as years go by.

New to the trend cycle is the resurrection of Ford’s iconic Bronco. The company has announced a new retro-looking Bronco that recalls the rugged, boxy looking original from the 1960s. (The Bronco was retired from production in 1996.)

Bronco has its work cut out for it as Jeep Wrangler holds the top position in the off-road automotive category. To compete with the leader, Ford has two Bronco models and pricing starts at $29,000 up to $60,000 for larger engines and more options and trim.

Welcome back, Bronco. It’s good to see you.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the stages in the product life cycle. What are the marketing objectives in each stage?
  2. How are cars moved through the PLC?
  3. Next, discuss the life cycle of the Ford Bronco.
  4. Show video introducing the new Bronco: https://youtu.be/-v1urLWR5zg
  5. How is Ford repositioning the car on the PLC?
  1. Show Bronco’s Web site: https://www.ford.com/bronco/
  2. Divide students into teams. Have each team draw a product life cycle and place various products and services into each stage.
  3. Next, have students brainstorm on how to reposition or revise products/services to that they can move into an earlier stage of the life cycle or be reinvented for a new life.

Source:  Wall Street Journal; other news sources

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Flippy Gets a New Gig at White Castle

The fast food industry has long had a labor problem. It can hard to find restaurant workers, particularly for fast-food chains where the jobs can be long, hot, and greasy. Add in food safety preparation issues for handling the COVID-19 pandemic and the problem grows. One of the more thankless jobs is probably working the fryer. It’s boring, repetitive, and carries a high risk of burns from hot oils.

White Castle, with 365 restaurants in the U.S., is piloting a new solution at a store in Chicago. Coming to the rescue is Flippy, the robot-on-a-rail (ROAR), that will soon be working the fry station. Flippy has a long, articulated arm that glides along an overhead rail to work the fry station, including filling the basket, timing the oil, and removing the fries without burning anyone. Safer food prep can help employees focus more on the customer, and less on production.

Flippy is a product of Miso Robotics in Pasadena, Calif., and is billed as the world’s first autonomous robotic kitchen assistant that can learn from its surroundings. It can work a grill or fryer, cooks perfectly and consistently every time, collaborates with kitchen staff, and is OSHA safety-compliant. The robotic arm isn’t cheap though. Flippy costs between $60,000 – $100,000.

Hungry for fries?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Who was worked at a fast-food restaurant? What was the experience like for them?
  2. Show video of Flippy at White Castle: https://youtu.be/5vjf13h2f6o
  3. View videos and more information at Miso Robotics: https://youtu.be/5vjf13h2f6o
  4. Discuss the buying process for organizations. Who would influence the decision-making?
  5. For Flippy the robot food-preparation product, have students work on the actions taken in each of the five steps.
    1. Problem recognition?
    2. Information search?
    3. Evaluative criteria?
    4. Purchase decision?
    5. Post-purchase behavior?
  6. What are key considerations in each step?
  7. Debrief the exercise.

Source:  AdWeek; Forbes; Tech Crunch; other news sources

 

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