Tag Archives: ERT

Grab your piece of the action

ERT Blog

With Smart Home product sales set to boom over the coming years now is the time to get in on the action and here, Rupert Cook, Sales and Marketing Director at Gekko, looks at how this can be done.

Here at Gekko we’ve been talking about the Smart Home for over four years now. Back in 2014, we commissioned research into ‘the connected home’ and asked consumers what they thought of having digitally connected devices in their homes. The vibe coming back from the 2,000 respondents wasn’t exactly positive.  When asked about what kind of product they would consider, smart thermostats came top of the list with 44% expressing an interest. Over a quarter said they wouldn’t be interested in any form of smart device.   The principal concerns cited were expense and the technology being deemed as not necessary.

Thankfully for us all, things have moved on from then and the numbers speak for themselves. Analysis by PWC The global market for smart home is expected to be worth $50bn by 2022. Around 30% of people are planning to purchase a smart home device for the home in the next two years and looking at just one product category in the smart home arena, Smart Speakers, further illustrates the potential. In 2017 Amazon sold 33m Echo devices whilst Google dominated selling more than one Home device per second from its launch in October 2017 to mid-2018.

Consumers aren’t only purchasing smart home products; they’re also discussing the merits online. A study by Crimson Hexagon indicates that positive sentiment is growing from 60% to 80% in the last year, another sign that smart home technology sales are poised for blockbuster growth.

So what will 2019 bring for the smart home. Well CES, the annual consumer electronics trade show in Las Vegas, is only just around the corner and a quick search for the subject on their website schedule brings up roughly 100 talks, seminars and events on the topic. Smart home is without a doubt going to be one of the lead stories for many journalists and the category will become more diverse, with new innovations and services coming to the mainstream. Looking beyond just the smart home, it’s worth noting that 5G technology is on it’s way in 2019 as it’s rolled out to certain cities in across the UK. With speeds 20 times faster than 4G, the advance is only going to hasten the Internet of Things and connectivity in general and will in future open up new possibilities for consumers. Everything from refrigerators and window shades to your family car will be linked, while housekeeping robots and next generation digital assistants facilitate day to day activities.

The potential is there for CE retailers to capitalise on the opportunities and as indicated by the ERT Turning Point survey back in October, 45% of respondents have been looking at the Smart Home as a new area for their businesses. There are however challenges that have meant slow consumer adoption. To be successful at selling smart home solutions, retailers need to acknowledge and overcome these barriers.

The perceived complexity of systems is one of the principal hurdles for consumers, so it’s essential that the sales approach simplifies the options available and doesn’t overwhelm the shopper. It’s easy to get carried away and attempt to impress by reeling off the endless possibilities of what can be done; ‘if you buy this, install these, connect it to that, then you’ll be able to get Alexa to run the household…’   The chances are that you’re going to elicit the response ‘Great but I’m never going to do that’.

Our Smart Shopper research from earlier in the year showed that 21% of people love the idea of the smart home tech but were intimidated by the complexities.  Look to address this and you can have these types of customer eating from the palm of your hand.

The idea of complexity isn’t helped by the challenges of market fragmentation. On a typical shop floor, product groups tend to be disconnected – smart lighting, smart speakers, thermostats, security, home appliances etc. all displayed in separate areas. This makes it hard for consumer picture the totality of what’s actually possible within their home. All the shopper can see is competing brands, competing products and competing technologies. There is a general fear that if you buy into a particular brand then you’re on a committed pathway as there is no guarantee you’ll be able to integrate with other devices or solutions.

Retailers must plan, order and merchandise to overcome these inconsistencies and create a conducive sales experience. As an example, the Google Smart Tables in some multiple retailers bring together their devices with compatible third party products such a Philips Hue and in doing so bring the category to life.

Intrinsically linked to the above points is the need for the human touch. For all the great interactive displays that can be installed to bring the concept and possibilities alive in-store, there needs to and effective sales person on hand to guide and advise the customer. Otherwise, what will happen? The shopper will do their own research from the comfort of home before making an online purchase.

In creating effective sales people, the approach to training is obviously fundamental. For retailers, sales teams should be able to present an agnostic solution, understanding the bigger smart home picture rather than focusing on specific product types. Retailers should also tap into the product training on offer from suppliers and take up any offers of seeded or loaned kit, creating users and thus advocates of the products.

Consumer education is the key to expanding the use of smart technology into the modern home and retailers sit on the front lines of that effort. For all the pessimistic talk surrounding physical retailing it should be remembered that it still accounts for 80% of consumer sales in the UK. There’s an opportunity for bricks and mortar retailers to demystify the smart home and become the shop of choice for consumers looking to invest in the tech. And our recently published study shows how shoppers desire great retail experiences, with 81%  claiming the personal touch has disappeared from customer service in modern British retailing. Moreover, a third said that the personal touch is more likely to make a repeat purchase, with a fifth saying it would make them spend more. By offering up a great experience, education, advice, opinions and added value services such as installation, the smart home is certainly a category where you can battle against online retailers.

To read the full article please visit ERT

For more information on our research please visit Gekko.

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Time to get to grips with social media

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As I write this article, Amazon Prime Day, which ran for 36 hours across July 16-17, has been and gone. But it wasn’t free from issues, with reported instances of links not functioning and pricing on some items not the lowest available.

This resulted in some abandoned baskets and frustration for consumers who had deliberately postponed their purchases until Prime Day, which had been heavily advertised in advance.

An omni-channel approach to retail, while not necessarily essential, is advisable if retailers are to compete effectively against strong online competition. But you have to get it right, as Amazon inadvertently demonstrated.

So why should independent retailers make the most of digital marketing and in particular social media?

Retail giants such as Amazon and Currys PC World have huge budgets to spend on marketing, but that doesn’t mean independent retailers can’t expand their reach beyond their local community or stand out. By better understanding your market and tailoring content, a digital strategy can increase footfall in-store and sales off- and online.

The new 2018 Global Digital suite of reports reveals that there are now more than four billion people around the world using the internet. Independents have an equal chance to capture the attention of new and existing customers.

Don’t be put off by how many online shoppers there are. In the considered purchases category, consumers still want to go to stores for the experience – if you give them a reason to.

Gekko’s recent OnePoll ‘influencer’ research has conclusively proved that ‘over 50 per cent off’ shoppers still want to head to a store to see, touch and experience a product in person. An effective digital strategy can help attract these customers in-store.

Be social

Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram can all help grow customer relationships and drive sales online and off-line. The trick is to listen, respond and promote in line with the customer profile you are selling to. Be creative, be professional and be engaging.

Many independent retailers don’t have an army of social media experts behind them. But it is still possible to leverage topical news and mentions of related products and conversations that can attract attention to specific products or brands you are ranging. A good example is the potential increase in SDA sales linked to news around broadcasts of Great British Bake Off (GBBO).

Don’t be afraid to use any opportunity to jump on the bandwagon. Get involved in the conversations across all social media channels to raise your profile.

Listen to your customers. If you are being messaged online, respond to and actually log what they are saying. The better you understand customers’ needs, the easier it is to sell to them and others.

If you build brand loyalty online, you can then direct the shopper in-store. It’s the perfect opportunity to build a fan base.

Responding to customer feedback online, good or bad, is vital to ensuring your profile and standing are heightened. Don’t ignore negative comments, these must be addressed and used to direct the customer to the store for more help or the chance to try another product – take the conversation off-line, but resolve it and then drive them to the store.

Ultimately, the main aim is to get people in-store. Social media is the ideal platform for retailers to post promotions, new products, launches and in-store events so that customers that wouldn’t normally see them are engaged and inspired to walk in. Promote ‘shares’ from other people and encourage a social culture among your staff. By doing so, it can only help to attract new customers to your store and more importantly your ‘high street’, with your store supporting a vibrant shopping environment for the community.

When considering promotions, the key to the right promotion is tailored communications. Experiment with Facebook advertising to target people near the store and send them an offer that they can’t refuse or a message that piques their curiosity.

Independent retailers have the opportunity to stand out from the crowd and be different from the generic multiples – customers appreciate this in a saturated marketplace where a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is all too common.

Keeping track
It’s vital to track any online campaigns that you run – big or small. Measure the number of customers that have gone into store as a result of seeing an online advert or post by using promotional codes and training your staff to ask how they found you. This heightens the personal nature of in-store shopping, while telling you more about their customer.

Once it’s clear what works best and how to communicate with the right customers, those that will purchase, a digital strategy offers a world of opportunities.

Those of you who firmly believe it’s ‘not for you’ are increasingly alienating yourselves from a target audience. If you use social media in your personal life, then so do your current and future customers.

Read the full article on ERT Online.

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VOICE CONTROL: THE SOUND OF 2018

Smart home sales will dominate 2018, driven by voice control, and wireless headphones still present a huge opportunity, claims Gekko managing director Daniel Todaro

What does 2018 have in store for consumer electronics? The trends all seem to be pointing in the same direction and I have been saying throughout 2017 that it’s no secret – the smart home is set to dominate 2018.

With a sharp increase in products available in mass distribution in 2017, increasing 14.5 per cent year on year and gaining popularity among consumers, including technophobes, the smart-home category is going to grow, with more choice and greater integration to establish AI interfaces as the norm for many.

The smart home is the connected home and includes smart speakers, such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home, which is estimated to be a $13 billion business by 2024, fuelled by the increase in network connectivity and a rise in demand for connected-home devices, such as thermostats.

The home automation element of smart living is expected to grow – especially when you consider that it’s not just thermostats that you can manage from your smart speaker, but also lighting, security cameras and door bells to name a few. This creates an increased opportunity in a category that’s still growing and definitely not stagnating. In fact, it’s estimated that consumer spending on smart-home technology is expected to grow 29 per cent year on year.

Evolving

The market is, of course, evolving and 2018 will be the year that the marketplace starts to get a lot more crowded, as the category develops from Amazon and Google offering their own range of speakers in a variety of form factors.

Google and Alexa Assistants are also being integrated into products from other hardware brands, such as Sonos, which has already released the Sonos One – with Alexa. It also hopes to integrate Siri and Google Assistant soon.

Apple’s HomePod will hit homes in 2018 and will, of course, garner attention, but its Siri solution offers some weak competition. Audio brands such as Yamaha, Libratone and Ultimate Ears all announced Alexa-driven smart speakers at IFA this year, with Sony, Philips and LG adding Google Assistant integration to their smart products.

So how do you choose between one solution and another? Well, research conducted by Stone Temple indicated that when 5,000 of the same questions were asked to Google Assistant, Microsoft’s Cortana, Siri and Alexa, it was Google Assistant that came out on top with 68 per cent of questions answered, compared with 21 per cent for Amazon’s Alexa.

In selling the smart home, we know that in many instances it will require an assisted sale to do the category justice. This is important to consider, as retail value is expected to reach €5.11 billion (£4.5bn) worldwide this year.

More importantly, the opportunity in 2018 is that 44 per cent of shoppers don’t know whom to trust to install their smart-home devices.

So, consider what has been discussed in ERT as part of the Turning Point debate, and look to exploit the trends and develop the opportunity into profitability by starting to focus on smart home installation. Products that come with installation, like Hive by a British Gas engineer, could gain an edge over products like Nest, where the homeowner would normally have to source their own installer.

Consumers welcome a full-service solution, and with 35 per cent of smart-home sales in 2018 expected to be for energy management and with 19 per cent for home-security, there’s plenty of opportunity for the switched-on retailers. So why not create a solution that assists in the install and integrates every smart-home device as and when a consumer adds to their connected-home environment?

Another major trend is the growth in wireless headphones. Although currently only accounting for less than 20 per cent of all headphones sales in the UK, a seismic change is expected over the next 12 to 24 months. By 2021, they will become standard, with worldwide sales projected to reach 206 million units, up 96 per cent on this year’s anticipated figures.

Phenomenal

This phenomenal upsurge is driven by the increasingly rare 3.5mm jack in premium smartphones. This growth will be reflected across a wide spectrum of price points and brands, meeting the needs and expectations of younger generations who demand no ‘wires’.

Retailers will need to be able to match this trend in their ranging and also consider compatibility for iOS or Android devices, as not all headphone products may work on every device.

Trends in retail execution are also set to change further in 2018, as identified by Barclaycard, whose research found that shoppers want new and engaging high-street experiences, such as in-store events, and are spending more when they find them. Those UK retailers who are tapping into this demand have seen annual turnover increase by an average of 14 per cent, according to Barclaycard research.

Retailers who are already investing in such events are now planning to double this investment over the next two years, as more than a third (36 per cent) now host events in-store, from classes and courses to exclusive sales previews. The research also showed that decision-makers are planning to increase investment for in-store theatre by a further 113 per cent over the next 24 months, suggesting that some retailers, maybe your competition, now view this kind of marketing as key to driving footfall and boosting sales.

With a lack of innovation from some CE categories, keep on top of those ‘growth’ categories and retail trends in 2018 to be top dog.

Read the article at ERT Online

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WHAT YOU SHOULD BE STOCKING THIS CHRISTMAS

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Christmas comes but once a year, so target customers with what they want and capture your share of that lucrative seasonal peak in sales, advises Gekko managing director Daniel Todaro

It’s Christmas and there’s nothing that gets people more excited than the gift of technology.

We Brits rack up a staggering £11 billion on credit cards to fund the ‘perfect’ Christmas and we start early. More than a quarter (27 per cent) of shoppers begin their gift shopping in the three months before the big day and 48 per cent just one month before. So it’s time to start your Christmas ranging.

In this world of plenty, deciding what to stock can be a difficult decision for a retailer, so keep it relevant to what your consumers either need or desire. To do this, it’s essential to be in tune with your customer base and the latest trends. What was selling five years ago may not be relevant today.

A good place to start is a category that’s most definitely relevant – the smart home. Listen to your peers and follow the advice of the ERT Turning Point summit participants: “All it takes is a small bit of space to introduce the smart home to your store – even just a metre square is enough to bring a whole new category to your customers”.

The smart home is a great opportunity for retailers looking to widen their customer base. With the smart-home market expected to be worth £53.4 billion by 2022 – an annual increase of 14.5 per cent – it has been assisted hugely by sales of ‘smart’ speakers from brands such as Google and Amazon.

Google has integrated its Google Assistant into products from other brands, such as Sony, Panasonic and JBL, increasing reach and popularity. Amazon Echo and Alexa is also being integrated into speakers and soundbars from Yamaha and other smart-home devices, such as thermostats from Hive.

Further proof as to why you don’t want to miss out on the action is the fact that 42 per cent of these smart speaker ‘early adopters’ have gone on to buy a second device. The message is clear. The smart home is here to be expanded in your range plans and with smart speaker products available from £49, ranging needn’t be an expensive investment.

Justified

The decision to range smart speakers can be justified by the fact that demographics indicate some users have never bought actual physical music. When you consider that 52 per cent of all music streamed is by the 16 to 24 age group, it’s clear to see why the wireless speaker market is set to increase 21 per cent in 2017 – equating to 55 million units shipped globally.

A study from Nielsen affirms that connected technology is the highest use of media devices among 18 to 24-year-olds, and this age group uses connected tech five times more than those aged 50+ age. That will not only grow, but also change to include older age groups very rapidly, as the smart home becomes a mainstay for all.

Music on the go is another growth sector opportunity, with headphones set to increase four per cent to 368m global unit sales this year. Premium audio brands are increasingly moving towards wireless technology, meeting the needs and expectations of younger generations. As consumers favour the wireless approach to music and media on the go, retailers need to be able to match this trend and also consider compatibility for iOS or Android devices – not all headphone products will work on every device.

The smart TV category continues to grow and is, of course, relevant to retailers in the run-up to Christmas. In the EU, smart TVs account for 57 per cent of all TVs sold, which surprised me.

It does, however, demonstrate that there is a continuing market for smart TVs and, more importantly, an opportunity to upgrade customers.

With UK shoppers spending in the region of £474 (£305 EU average) on around eight people this Christmas, the need to meet the magic £59 price point in your ranging is essential to capture the 73 per cent of sales achieved in retail for at least one gift.

Giving shoppers this experience on the shopfloor is what can set independent retailers apart from multiple and online retailers.

Off course, an omni-channel approach should not be ignored and where you can’t physically display products because of space restrictions, implement a system that enables online ordering and 24-hour click and collect from your store.

And remember, the smart home is not just for Christmas – so embrace it all the time

Read the article at ERT: http://ertonline.co.uk/opinion/jingle-bell-stock/

 

 

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Connect with your customer

Once the stuff of science fiction, the connected home is now a reality, with smart technology now found in almost all categories across consumer electronics and domestic appliances.

Consumers are starting to take a real interest in the smart home. But it’s up to retailers to bridge the gap between desire and knowledge, offering consumers a personalised service. This is an area where independent retailers can excel over their multiple counterparts.

Although there is clearly demand among consumers for smart products, many retailers may still be sceptical that the smart home is the future. If you are a sceptic, take a look at your top-end TVs and MDAs – chances are they all include smart features that your customers aspire to have in their homes.

New smart MDA products, such as the LG InstaView fridge-freezer (pictured) and the Hoover Wizard smart oven, have additional features to complement your customers’ lifestyles. You can offer these smart MDA solutions as the top of your ranging. Soon all appliances and CE products will be smart. Customers who have bought that smart TV or washing machine are likely to come back in-store looking for the next appliance to complete their smart home.

If you are thinking about ranging smart-home products, but don’t know where to begin – start small. There are plenty of products that require only a small investment, but can have a huge lifestyle impact for consumers. Smart plugs, such as those from Hive and TP-Link, allow users to control their appliances from any smart device. From turning on a lamp, to making sure your hair straighteners are turned off, smart plugs are an inexpensive and easy to install and a great way to introduce customers to the category. Likewise, ranging at around £70, smart light bulbs, such as Philips Hue or Lifx, are a great smart-home product, allowing consumers to switch on their lights or change the colour, and can be linked to a device such as Google Home.

Excitement

Then you can move on to other key smart-home areas, such as thermostats from Hive and Nest, and smart security products, such as the Ring video doorbell. These products are more of an investment with an average basket value of £123, but the lifestyle benefits will appeal to interested consumers. Similarly, smart speakers are an up-and-coming category creating a lot of excitement.

As recently published in ERT, a survey by German electronics retailer Reichelt found that 56 per cent of Brits were already using, or would consider using, a voice-controlled connected device in the home. However, 55 per cent did not know how to install them or would need to seek professional help.

There is definitely an opportunity for independent retailers to fill this gap, offering customers professional installation or even training in-store from a member of staff. With some multiple retailers lacking the wi-fi connection needed to fully set up a smart speaker or security system in-store, set your shop apart by offering a full demo-ready model of all your smart-home products for shoppers to try out. This could make your store an obvious destination.

But it’s important that you don’t confuse shoppers with technical jargon. Make sure your staff are communicating what the smart home offers each customer, be it peace of mind when leaving their home for a long period, the money-saving benefits of a smart thermostat, or even the convenience of a smart assistant.

Equally, make sure that, when demoing a product, your staff have been thoroughly trained and are able to answer any questions. Shoppers will want to be reassured that the device is easy to install, unobtrusive and convenient for them.

This will help inspire customers to come to you to upgrade all their appliances to create a smart home for themselves. With the average basket value of a smart-home purchase trending at £105, the prospects are good.

 

Read more at http://ertonline.co.uk/opinion/connect-with-your-customer/

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