Recently, the CB Insights website used its patent search engine to discover Wal-Mart's new patent application (originally filed in October 2016). The technology described in the patent application will be used in the Internet of Things platform to track how shoppers use the product at home. When the product runs out or needs to be replaced, the system will automatically re-order. CB Insights Website Analysis Wal-Mart has released more than 800 patents and applications over the past few years and found that this is the first to explicitly mention a patent focused on the Internet of Things. Wal-Mart's previous patents involved in-store or e-commerce.
This system is reminiscent of the Amazon Dash button, which helps users to quickly re-order the product. Two years ago, the Amazon Dash button now covers more than 300 kinds of products. But with the Amazon Dash button still requires the user to press the physical button is different, Wal-Mart's purpose is to integrate the object into the product in order to automatically re-order, without the user to operate.
The patent application is titled "Retail Subscription in Internet of Things", which describes the addition of Internet of Things labels to products based on Bluetooth, radio frequency identification, infrared, NFC or other technologies. The tag will monitor the use of the product and order it when needed. The tag can also track the expiration date and make a product recall.
In addition, this Internet of Things system can also help Wal-Mart to collect valuable consumer data. The patent mentions that these tags can track the frequency of use of the product, the time of use, and its location at home. The patent illustrates that this data can help develop personalized advertising, predict demand management, and get more detailed market segmentation of customer data. The patent application also states that Wal-Mart can also use this to expand cross-selling.