MasterCard Pushes Into the Refrigerator

January 5, 2016, 10:05 PM UTC


Fortune 500 rank: 88 In October, Kraft Foods spun off its $36 billion global snack foods division into Mondelez (roughly "delicious world" in Spanish.) The new internationally-focused company is home to powerhouse brands such as Oreos, Ritz, and Trident. The remaining company was renamed Kraft Foods Group and sells grocery brands such as Oscar Meyer, Nabisco, and Planters in North America. Both companies stumbled in their first quarters, with revenue declining 2% for snacks and 11% for groceries. Warren Buffett wasn't thrilled with the split and unloaded shares in both Kraft and Mondelez, but both stocks have seen double-digit increases since the parting.
Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg/Getty

Internet connected coffee makers, toasters, and ovens are a big focus for appliance and electronics makers. The sales pitch: sci-fi kitchens make home owners’ lives easier by letting them manage everything from their mobile phones.

In yet another example of the trend, MasterCard said on Tuesday that it had teamed up with Samsung to let people buy groceries directly from their fridge. Samsung’s new Family Hub refrigerator comes with an Internet enabled screen that people can use to order their groceries through a MasterCard app.

Users can add an item to a cart, much like when ordering groceries online, and then approve the final list by entering a four-digit pin. Users must upload a credit or debit card to their account only once.

Groceries are delivered by FreshDirect and the supermarket chain ShopRite at a selected time.

MasterCard’s refrigerator grocery app is intended to make commerce more seamless for users and save them from having to run to the store. The company is trying to keep up in an increasingly online-dependent era, when carrying plastic in your wallet isn’t as important.

MasterCard has been trying to integrate its payment technology into a number of wearable devices and Internet connected products. For example, the company partnered with General Motors to add the ability to pay for items in a store within a car key fob.

With the refrigerator app, the financial services giant is also taking a page out of the Amazon personalization book. It plans to automatically suggest items for users to buy based on their shopping histories and grocery lists. Eventually the app will include recipes and video tutorials, and will expand to other grocers in different regions, the company said. MasterCard also said that the service would include the ability to order delivery from local restaurants.

For now, the service is only available in New York and the Northeast.

MasterCard has also developed a companion mobile app that lets multiple members of a family to add to a single cart. At home, consumers can also use the mobile app to scan barcodes on products to add them to the virtual shopping cart.

WATCH: For more on Samsung’s leader, watch this Fortune video:

What’s missing from MasterCard’s push into the refrigerator is technology that sense when a family is low on milk, for example, and then orders it from the store. Amazon is trying to do this with its Dash Replenishment service, which debuted in the Fall of 2015. For example, General Electric’s new clothes washer will detect when laundry detergent supply runs low, and order more (via Amazon of course). Other partners include Samsung, Oster, Brother, Whirlpool, and Brita.

Additionally, Samsung’s Internet-connected laser printers monitor toner usage over time so that it can automatically order replacements. Eventually, we should expect that our refrigerators will be as intelligent as our printers.


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