Houses and technology

I was discussing with a colleague the inevitability of supermarket retailers being disrupted the same way department stores have been . I contended that in a few short years the technology will arrive that allows a supermarket shopping experience on line that is cheaper and better in every way than entering a store – not even considering the time saved. Their retort I found to be an interesting one….

They claimed it was too difficult logistically. That the shift would even need to involve some kind of one way cupboard and or refrigerator being installed at the door of every house to take delivery of the goods. They even made reference to the fact that the goods would need to be segmented into different delivery boxes based on their temperature storage requirements. Besides the fact that this person had terrific ‘solutions’ within their proposed issues scope – it made me think about how the places we live in have already changed significantly based on technology, social and commercial innovations. Innovations which have been pushed into homes based on an entrepreneurial imperative.

The simplest example is the driveway. Something that no home in the history of man had before the nineteenth century. A simple yet expensive convenience all new homes were built with after WW2.  Based the desire of home owners to have the convenience of a private transport device, adjacent industries responded with solutions. In fact, a large part of the Henry Ford strategy was to convince government to pave the roads of America and accommodate his burgeoning industry. So it isn’t silly to believe that the impending upheaval in the supermarket industry will involve a great deal coalescing from the ‘new supply chain’ and home designers and builders. Through history this has happened in both large and small ways. But to jog your memory, here’s a few more examples of technology placed into homes to assist homeowners and new industries:

  • the letter box
  • the kitchen
  • the inside bathroom
  • the inside toilet
  • telephone cables
  • internal plumbing & gas fitting
  • internal electricity
  • heating & cooling systems
  • wifi systems
  • garages

In fact we could probably add everything under the roof that doesn’t involve the primary idea of housing – providing shelter.

The insight for startups is two fold: Firstly, we can inspire and believe that the infrastructure will arrive to support an innovation which makes life better for people. And secondly, we can be the provider of that infrastructure to make the next growth industry possible.

New startup idea for free – One way in home front door fridges!


7 Comments Houses and technology

  1. Clytie Siddall

    I remember when houses had a small door in their walls, which made a cupboard openable from the outside and inside. Bakers placed your fresh bread in this cupboard.

    In any case, the spread of secure locker locations for delivery will start including refrigerated ones. You may pay a bit more, but if you’re busy and can’t set a delivery time when you’re home, this will beat pushing a trolley down aisles. You just order your groceries online and pick them up from the locker.

  2. kpolo

    Until you solve the “I need some cough medicine. Oh and while I’m there I’ll also pick up some bananas” that can be done in 15 minutes driving to the store, it ain’t gonna happen.

    Plus stores like Wegmans are taking things up a notch by providing free childcare, recipe lessons, taste samples, etc.

  3. Salman Arif

    I found your site when searching for reasons behind Krispy Kreme’s troubles here in Canada. Just wanted to put in a note to say that both the site design (gumby!) and the contents are brilliant. Thanks for sharing your insights!

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