Zero Effort Commerce (ZEC). I know you didn’t order it but you need it!

Is Zero Effort Commerce (ZEC), this year's ‘nuclear powered hoover’ or ‘flying car’, the service we've all been dreaming of?

If so, what is ZEC?

Think of a butler or assistant who orders your food when you’re running low. Or a new shirt because the old one is starting to fray. This is ‘it’s done without me having to think or do anything commerce’.Now think of your butler or assistant in the ‘virtual’ sense and you’ve got ‘zero click’ or ‘zero effort’ commerce.

To be fair, the first green shoots of the arrival of ‘no click shopping’ came with the UK merger of The Car Phone Warehouse and Dixons in 2014 (and any Amazon or eBay future reports from the same period). But, are we ready to allow our buying decisions to be handed over? Yes, some commoditised items will be better managed through ZEC, but what about if you change your mind about a purchase? For example, I might be out of yogurts this time, but, what if I feel like buying cheesecake instead next time?

The four waves of ‘effortless’ commerce

So where are we at the moment? I would say sitting between waves 2 and 3 below:

Wave 1: The internet, and online shopping. Yep, we all remember our first online purchase.

Wave 2: Smartphones giving us online information about the shop we’re shopping in (known as showrooming).

Wave 3: Internet and high-street blend. My car finds its own space near to where I need to shop. My phone finds the best price and takes me to the shop offering the product I need.

(We are beginning to see this in new car technology and wearable technology today, with more on the horizon.)

Wave 4: Zero Effort Commerce: No click shopping – your managed world.

Yes, we do need to connect up our cars, phones, wearable tech and houses – and I can’t wait! But the challenge lies with ensuring the consumer feels they are in control. The maker of the yogurt will probably fund the app that allows your fridge to be smart and re-order when low, which is great for the brand. But who will make sure I get the handy stuff that makes my life better?

Stuff like, how many parking spaces are free in town right now? What I can make for dinner tonight with what’s in the fridge? Or, what’s the best thing to do in town tonight?

For me ZEC is great for Amazon, eBay, supermarkets and retailers but they have a vested interest in it. I just can’t see how they will fund the other services to fully leverage current technologies and the capabilities of products such as my new fridge or car.

Micro payments could be part of this future, with a pay-as-you-go model. However, this could also be a barrier to consumer uptake. Will the big brands become the single monthly payment service solution? And, as we hand over all our data, will ZEC make decisions that are best for me, or the brand that funds the service?

Consumers still need to trust

Predicting the future is very ‘of the moment’. And the future is massively exciting with the advent of smart cars, smart fridges and wearable tech. But what technologists and global brands, such as Amazon and Google, need to remember is simple. In the future, we will still be consumers that require trust in, engagement with and enjoyment from our interactions.

With all the Google glass, smart fridges and connected cars being launched, I think some are talking about the new future through rose tinted Google Glasses..

By Gavin W H Anderson | Director