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Bud Light uncaps mcommerce for foray into smart home appliances

Anheuser-Busch’s Bud Light brand is uncapping its foray into smart home devices with a Wi-Fi-enabled refrigerator, allowing consumers to control the appliance’s interior temperature and order beer for home delivery via a complementary mobile application.

The product provides beer enthusiasts with real-time data about the drinks housed in the Bud-E Fridge, displaying a countdown timer on the accompany mobile application to alert users how long they have until the beer reaches optimal serving temperature. Bud Light has also included a commerce aspect to the smart device by teaming up with alcohol delivery platform Saucey to enable customers to instantly replenish their Bud Light supply via their mobile device.

“We are constantly looking for innovative ways to enhance our fans’ experience and with the Bud-E Fridge, we’ve created something that shows how we continue to push the boundaries in technology and innovation,” said Azania Andrews, senior director of consumer connections at Bud Light, St. Louis, MO.

Connected commerce possibilities
Consumers who purchase the fridge, which is currently only available to California residents as part of a test run, must also download the Bud-E app for Android or iOS smartphones. The refrigerator can then be connected to the user’s home or office Wi-Fi network for further interaction.

Customers may leverage the app to control the inside temperature, ensuring that beers achieve just the right amount of coldness prior to consumption.

Bud Light will likely experience a surge in sales after the initial fridge rollout, thanks to the mcommerce aspect of the product. Users can indicate a specific stock point in the app to enable a push notification to come through when inventory needs to be replenished.

For example, a consumer may set his or her alert to arrive when there are only 10 beers left in the fridge, at which point the Bud-E app will disperse a push notification that will connect to the Saucey app. Saucey specializes in alcohol home delivery, and will bring the desired amount of Bud Light beers to the user’s home at the specified time.

By partnering with Saucey, Bud Light may also be helping local retailers strike back against automated ordering tools, such as Amazon’s Dash button. Instead of purchasing their cases of beer from online conglomerates including Amazon, consumers can ensure their dollars go to the wallets of local bricks-and-mortar alcohol sellers, on the behalf of which Saucey can deliver.

Consequently, more liquor chains or standalone stores may opt to offer their available inventory via the Saucey app, in a bid to reach more customers.

In-app beer ordering is not automated, meaning that customers will not have to fear constantly incurring charges.

This strategy could affect how other food and beverage brands approach the potentially lucrative sector of smart home appliances. The ease of paying for and setting up delivery of perishables may prompt some consumers to invest in a connected device.

Non-necessary appliances without commerce options would then run the risk of alienating some customers.

The Bud-E Fridge may be ordered by California residents on the site, for an introductory price of $299 before the regular cost of $599 kicks in.

“Bud Light continues to push the boundaries in technology, innovation, and new ways to deliver beer to consumers,” Ms. Andrews said. “We know Bud Light drinkers are all about convenience, so leveraging the Bud-E Fridge to provide beer drinkers with a new, convenient way to enjoy Bud Light is key for our brand.”

Targeting football fans
Football fans will likely appreciate the additional features found within the fridge and complementary app, especially as the National Football League season kicks into gear. Sports enthusiasts may ask the app to notify them before their favorite NFL and National Hockey League teams play, in case they need to resupply their stock of beer.

This feature is particularly useful for individuals who enjoy throwing game-day parties for friends and family, but may not have the time necessary to make a liquor store run. Instead, they may order several cases of beer via the Bud Light and Saucey app integration.

Marketing to a niche audience may help Bud Light sell more of the smart fridges, which will clock in at a relatively high price once the introductory discount expires.

This is not the first time that the brand has specifically targeted NFL fans.

Several weeks ago, Bud Light joined forces with Google’s search function to sponsor National Football League-related content ahead of the fall season in a bid to capture the attention of football fans via second-screen additive experiences on mobile (see story).

“Right now we are most excited to share it with football fans,” Ms. Andrews said. “The Bud-E Fridge app allows users to register their favorite NFL teams, receive updates when the game is approaching, and will also provide an update on the Bud-E Fridge’s supply levels, making sure they’re always stocked for game day.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely, staff writer on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York