Grocery Stores Increasingly Turn to Mobile Payments, Self-Driving Delivery Cars

January 31, 2019         By: Steven Anderson

We’ve seen the self-driving car become increasingly part of the last-mile delivery options set at grocery stores, and even to a lesser extent at restaurants. A new report suggests that this trend is likely to continue, and grocery stores will be leading the way. That may one day come as a comfort to all those who ventured out into the recent cold snap for the last round of bread and milk.

The new reports suggest that the United States, as a whole, is expected to spend around $192 billion on Internet of Things (IoT) development just this year alone. China, meanwhile, is expected to spend about as much itself at $182 billion. Development fields include agricultural operations, supply chain systems, and government operations, though IoT users are still very much concerned about issues of security. That’s not without reason; the nature of IoT devices—they’re small and often very simple, and put in out-of-the-way places where they’re not watched frequently—leaves them quite available to hacking.

Grocery delivery, however, is largely a different matter. It can be done with comparative security, as the worst it can reveal is a shopper’s name and address, items commonly available from voter registration data or even a phone book. Already, we’ve seen several companies take this approach, including the digital grocer Farmstead, who doesn’t even have a brick-and-mortar outlet but combines online shopping with self-driving card delivery to produce the approximation of Amazon shopping for everyday groceries.

There’s little doubt people want a service like this. Food delivery has been a welcome part of the landscape since pizza places thought of it, and even back in the early 20th century, delivered groceries weren’t out of line in small towns. As long as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will keep dragging its feet on delivery drones, self-driving cars—which already have approval in more than a few places—will likely be the next best thing. It can even have a human element involved, someone to get the groceries out of the car and park them on a porch or similar.

Regardless of the final outcome, we may well be on our way to a future delivered to our front door. That’s a pretty welcome future, and one mobile payments helps make possible.