Countdown and Samsung are now teaming up to bring New Zealanders the Family Hub Refrigerator, an innovative solution that allows customers to place their grocery orders straight from the fridge, thanks to a wifi-enabled touchscreen. The refrigerator also features three in-built cameras that take a photo each time the door closes; by using a smartphone, shoppers can access those images anytime to check if a product is missing.

The innovation marks exactly twenty years after Countdown started offering online grocery shopping as a trial. For those who remember that not so distant, yet strikingly different era, venturing online in 1996 meant dealing with several floppy discs, working on very few windows at the same time (to avoid computer crashes), and waiting tirelessly for a single photo to appear in its entirety. And all this while listening to a dial-up noise that seemed to be coming from the depths of the universe.

In that ancient age, as Internet browsers were in their infancy, Countdown had to provide its first 100 online customers with a dozen floppy discs containing the shopping programme, which slowly connected to a central server. To top it all, customers paid by submitting a direct debit form and ID via fax, with two personal shoppers then taking care of the order at Foodtown Manurewa. It comes to no surprise that the average shop could take more than an hour.

Two decades on from then, Countdown receives around 20,000 online orders every week from over 80,000 customers across New Zealand. With the ‘world’s smartest fridge’ the company wants to push boundaries further. Four households will soon be able to try it, as Countdown has four refrigerators to give away from 21 July. The innovation will also be showcased at select locations in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington over the next month.

Countdown’s new Head of Online Sally Copland

Countdown’s new Head of Online Sally Copland