Tag Archives: Gekko

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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IFA 2018: Substance or hype?

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I’ve been coming to IFA for many years and as a self-confessed gadget addict it’s like being a kid in a sweet shop. But like deciding which sweets to buy all those years ago, it’s a bit overwhelming and disappointing if you don’t choose wisely and suffer from buyers’ remorse!

So, here’s my take on what consumers should look out for and how marketers and retailers can prepare themselves for what innovations are coming next:

This year IFA was very comfortable in its own skin. Its confidence bolstered by the fact that Europe is a big market and like it or not, the UK whilst important does not set the agenda – so we didn’t see Brexit significantly impact the conversation. But what we do have to be aware of is that there are new, more stringent energy efficiency ratings for Major Domestic Appliances being implemented by the EU in 2019, that if not adopted in the UK could mean consumers are being sold products which are less energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

It’s either going to be easier or more difficult for brands to distribute in the UK – which would be a sad day for British consumers, who are low on the list for renewable energies and could potentially have appliances that are uncategorised.

Over the last four years as, smart technologies evolved from infancy to real life products and applications, brands are feeling excited and confident about the future and not surprisingly and as predicted last year the voice assistant is driving the conversation. There are still only really two major players, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. And as you walked into IFA 2018 it was awash with Google branding, experiential and staff across the event on every third party stand with Google Assistant enabled products taking a lead compared to Amazon with Alexa.

Most of the innovation on show was about the connected home via voice control, from washing machines with Hoover, Candy and Beko through to smart speakers, thermostats, lighting and TVs. Infact, AI assistants are being integrated into pretty much everything you can imagine. But as I’ve said all along and continue to maintain, a smart kettle needs a human to fill it with water and pour said water, a smart washing machine needs someone to put the garments in and take them out…..need I go on?

Every brand had a big bold stand with beautiful products, displayed to meet the exacting expectations of the tech savvy consumer however there’s nothing really ground breaking. For brands operating in crowded categories, it’s difficult to gain cut through in all the noise. The mistake some brands have made is to overcompensate for no news by regurgitating the old to the disappointment of visitors. Sometimes a brand can gain more credibility by playing it cool like Samsung, Sony and LG.

Those who have something new to scream about are making themselves hoarse doing so but to great effect in some cases. Would B&O have received the media coverage it did for the Beosound Edge? Unlikely when you consider its £2900 price tag, not your average mainstream product. A close second is 8K TVs which are coming to market soon from LG with no firm launch date and from Samsung in September. However, the only problem with this is that no one is currently broadcasting in 8K, studios aren’t producing on mass in 8K and it’s going to be prohibitively expensive. The first mainstream broadcast in 8k is likely to be from Japanese broadcaster NHK for the Tokyo Olympics in 2022.

As Rory Cellan-Jones, BBC Technology Correspondent, suggested, “is it just another gimmick to sell us more TVs especially when only four years ago we were being told 4K was cutting edge.”

I agree but as marketers our job is to sell the boundaries of possibilities to consumers. New products like these benefit the industry and rejuvenate categories. And of course, there was the ridiculous. The Candy Millennial Pink Edition washing machine, a season too late, raised a laugh at the press conference in being ridiculed by a senior executive, although perhaps the real message was lost in translation. It does though provide a lesson on trends and press announcements. Brands should be aware of not desperately trying to create headlines with new colour variations of their products taking the place of real innovation.

One clear message I’ve translated from many brands is the lack of consideration for the customer journey. They have been so wrapped up in ‘bigging’ up the product launch, gaining distribution through retailer listings and advertising that the customer journey, the only true measure of the effectiveness ATL achieves, is left until last and is almost an afterthought.

Brands need to spend more time considering the customer journey and if they invest even 10% of the ATL budget, I know it will exponentially increase sales in retail where over 80% of considered purchases in the consumer electronics category happen. There’s a higher expectation from consumers than ever and technology brands need to nail it to succeed in crowded categories, so let’s make sure we listen to what they need, rather than just giving them what we want.

Read the full article at Lovely Mobile News

 

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MOP UP THOSE SMART SALES

Many people are afraid of smart tech, don’t understand it or how it can make life easier. This is where independent retailers have a golden opportunity, says Daniel Todaro, MD of field marketing agency Gekko

Gekko has once again proudly collaborated with ERT on this year’s Turning Point survey as part of the ERT Awards. It will be interesting to see what the findings are this year in relation to the smart home.

Last year’s survey revealed that 38 per cent of independent retailers that responded didn’t believe that selling the smart home was for them.

Now, I may not have a crystal ball, but I do have a clear view of the category’s growth since then and would be shocked if the figure remained this low in 2018.

I have commented a great deal over the past couple of years that the smart home is something to be embraced and is a category where physical retailers have an opportunity to outsmart their online competitors. It is early days for the category and there is the potential for a lack of understanding on the part of the consumer, made worse by scepticism about the real-world benefits.

Concerns about security are also a factor and so an assisted sales approach, where shoppers can properly experience products and talk to an expert, can make all the difference. In providing a superior customer experience, sales and your customer base can be developed to achieve smart profits.

Popularity
What is for certain, the smart home’s popularity isn’t going to fade – it’s no fad. This is evident from the fact that three-quarters of people have heard of the term smart home compared with just over half (57 per cent) in 2015. And with a current average of 10 connected devices per UK household, we aren’t scaling back on our connected addiction.

BBC’s Panorama recently predicted that by 2020 there would be 420 million connected devices across the UK. The smart home now even has its own ‘week’ – May 21-27 this year. This was a showcase for the very best in smart, connected and integrated home technology.

Its purpose was to inform, educate and reassure UK consumers about the benefits and opportunities of living in a smart, connected way.

Research conducted by Smart Home Week forecast that 42 per cent of consumers see the majority of UK homes being smart within the next 10 years.But I think it will be higher and sooner.

From my point of view, running an agency that loves both tech and retail, we’re passionate about understanding how the smart home is being marketed and identifying what the appeal is for the consumer, so we can support our brands in retail as best we can. Key to achieving this is identifying consumer purchasing habits and the sales opportunities the category presents.

One area to consider is what to range and sell. A lot has been said about smart speakers and voice-enabled AI devices integrating with home entertainment and that these are perhaps an easy, and relatively affordable, route into the world of smart technology. This is true, but we shouldn’t ignore some of the other product areas.

I think that smart home appliances is a category the general public is becoming increasingly aware of. While smart fridges and washing machines have been around for a while, high prices and doubts about their true benefits have meant they haven’t see adoption by the masses.

Active
Hoover Candy has been active recently with above-the-line campaigns talking about their app-enabled products.

While some may see a remotely accessible camera in an oven as unnecessary, many will warm to their Vision oven, where an integrated touch-screen provides recipes, instruction and a live view of what’s cooking. As lifestyles change, so do our opinions and habits. What we may have considered a ‘novelty’ may now be relevant to the lifestyle of the generation that these products are aimed at.

Smart tech is also extending to SDAs and outside into the garden space. Smart robotic vacuum cleaners are increasingly popular and a new device to me is the iRobot Braava mopping robot. In the garden, robotic lawnmowers are a desirable piece of tech and the market is expected to grow 20 per cent by 2022.
Apart from what type of smart products to consider selling, I think the approach taken in-store by sales staff should also be factored in – and I don’t mean reviewing sales skills, but rather appreciating how the end-user uses smart tech.

To better understand the consumer, we wanted to take a slightly different tack from previous studies and look at those who have bought into the smart home, how they use their products and what their concerns are.

Gekko’s Smart Home Shopper poll delivered some useful insights that can help brands and retailers increase their profits.

The study found that 56 per cent of adults had bought the latest must-have smart-home tech, including wi-fi controlled security cameras, heating systems and speakers, but had been left scratching their heads when they got them home as they had little idea what to do with the stuff they’ve bought. More than 30 per cent of the consumers we asked said they regretted buying at least one or more items of smart-home technology because it proved so difficult to get up and running, while many said they couldn’t get all their devices to connect – which is surely the whole point of having a ‘smart home’.

Coupled with this, nearly a third of them said they never read instructions or manuals when they buy a new piece of kit and 21 per cent admitted that, although they had a love of tech, they were intimidated by the complexities of it.

Forty-five per cent of people said the trickiest bit of kit to install was security equipment, including app-controlled doorbells, motion sensors and CCTV, while 28 per cent couldn’t get their smart lighting to work. And more than a third (35 per cent) came unstuck when installing their smart heating systems. Yet, these are the most popular items to purchase within the smart-home tech product portfolio.

And despite its current popularity, 30 per cent of adults that had purchased a smart speaker, such as the Amazon Echo or Google Home, didn’t understand all its functionality and smart features.

There’s clearly a customer need here that’s not being fulfilled by retailers. Smart-home tech is popular, but people don’t know how to fully utilise it to meet their lifestyle needs – whether that’s convenience, money saving, leisure time or learning.

Significant 
One significant barrier for shoppers is concern over how secure smart home devices are. Our study highlighted this, as did the findings from Smart Home Week, which found that 62 per cent of people were worried about the threat of smart homes being hacked. So be prepared to overcome this potential barrier and offer up some security advice as part of the sales process, or at least be able to point customers in the right direction.

All this is a great opportunity, especially for bricks-and-mortar retailers, to enhance the customer experience within the smart-home category by developing an environment where consumers can ‘play’, and a retail team that can articulate the features of each product in detail and match consumer needs to product performance.

The customer journey in retail needs enhancing to increase profitability and as the smart home establishes itself deeper across multiple categories, the approach in store must evolve to meet trends and the popularity of smart products.

Through an increased effort, what you do at the point of purchase will keep people coming back to traditional bricks-and-mortar stores for experiences they’ll never get online.

Top tips to sell smart tech

  • Show products in a proper context by displaying them in the way that consumers will use them, emphasising real-world use and benefits.
  • Demonstrate usability by linking the smart gadgets to one another as some clever retailers have done in selected stores, emphasising that they don’t have to be standalone products.
  • Seed or loan products to your sales staff so that they can become users and advocates and bring their real-life into the sales conversation.
  • Ask your suppliers and brands for support. Product training for your sales staff or brand ambassadors to engage with shoppers at peak times will all help drive business and a positive in-store experience. Whether directly, or using an agency such as Gekko, encourage brands to provide support on a campaign or ongoing basis to assist in maintaining continuity of customer experience in line with the advertising messaging.

Read the full article at ERTOnline

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GIVE THEM A RETAIL EXPERIENCE THAT’S WORTH THE TRIP

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You will convert more customers if you sell them a ‘solution’ that solves their problem rather than a product at a price that may be cheaper online anyway, says Daniel Todaro, managing director at field marketing agency Gekko

Let’s be honest, it’s a challenge out there in retail and every one of us shudders when we see superb businesses like Maplin hanging up the ‘closing down’ signs.

It’s now more important than ever to offer a solution-based sales model to your customers, converting as many as possible of those precious shoppers who take the time to visit your store.

Whatever their motivation for coming into your store, consumers are looking for a solution to a lifestyle problem. As a retailer, it’s within your power to provide this solution, offering consumers the right product for their needs and reinforcing why traditional retail is still the best platform to buy consumer electronic products.

Overall online sales were up 13.9 per cent year on year in January, with footfall down 6.6 per cent and it was almost 12 per cent down in London and the South-East.

When you look at the CE category, this was only up 4.4 per cent online, suggesting that shoppers are more hesitant to go online for big-ticket, considered purchases.

That first face-to-face interaction is critical. Sales staff should be asking key questions of consumers to discover why they are in the store, their needs, budget and motivations, in order to create the foundations of a solution-sales approach.

Is your shopper looking to buy new, upgrade or has something broken down? What do they currently have? What features do they require? Where will it be used? How often? Is it a primary or secondary device? What is their preferred price range? Do they need it installed? A customer wants reassurance that the product will meet their needs.

It is important to ensure your staff can demonstrate the product and explain the benefits. And don’t ignore what the shopper tells you, so that the features link naturally to their needs. This could make all the difference to their decision to purchase.

If shoppers can see how the product will solve their unique ‘problem’, they will go away satisfied and come back for more. Online will never be able to provide this level of service, so retailers need to take control of their destiny and provide consumers with an experience that was worth the trip.

Gekko’s OnePoll ‘influencer’ research has conclusively proved that ‘50 per cent off’ shoppers still want to head to a store to see, touch and experience a product in person. Now you’ve got them in your store, you should also know that our research showed that 35 per cent are influenced by recommendations from shop staff.

So the training you give your staff is possibly the most important part of achieving effective solution-based sales. Imagine how great it would be to convert that 35 per cent. If a shopper has confidence in a salesperson who focuses on their needs as a whole, rather than just on a particular product, they are more likely to purchase. You will instil confidence in your shopper and also build that all-important relationship that converts them into a customer who will keep coming back.

If you don’t believe me, the research also showed that that only 10 per cent of customers were influenced by celebrity endorsement, or 15 per cent by bloggers, etc. This is because there is no tangible engagement with, or as much trust in, these opinions to create a meaningful relationship. Compare this with the 71 per cent who are influenced by word of mouth from friends and family. The back-and-forth conversation needed between shopper and salesperson for solution selling is vital for building the trust needed to buy based on their recommendation.

This underlines the importance of having well-trained staff that know the products inside out and the lifestyle issues that each product helps address. We work with our brands to understand what strategy works by measuring sales before, during and after. One example from a connected-home partner confirmed that the number of units sold in three store groups in the 10 days after a briefing and merchandising campaign increased by 45 per cent. But 10 days later, sales dropped marginally, as staff didn’t continue the solution-selling techniques they’d been trained in.

The need to retain and continue the solution-based approach highlights the need for regular training and is proven to convert your shoppers into customers today, tomorrow and long into the future.

Visit ERTOnline to view the original article

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Women of Silicon Roundabout

This week Gekko enabled one of our senior field team members to experience an inspiring centrepiece event for women in the tech industry, namely the Women of Silicon Roundabout conference at ExCel London. #wintechseries #womenintech #tech #gekko #fieldmarketing

Here is Katy’s superb review of her experiences from the conference:

Women of Silicon Roundabout is a two-day event held at London’s ExCel, designed to bring together women in the tech industry. Beginning with one small event two years ago and is now the centrepiece of a global series, the Women In Tech Series (WinTechSeries) runs across the USA, Australia, mainland Europe and the UK (and is growing).

Exhibition stands packed out the hall; from high street retailers and online services, to banks and investment firms.

Workshops, seminars, skills labs and inspirational speakers took to the stage across several breakout rooms, a huge auditorium and speakers’ corners.

Whilst the event is designed to inspire, educate, network and build technical skills; the exhibition area was a hive of business showcases with most companies also targeting talent for potential recruitment.

I attended several seminars and watched some speakers. Here are my top takeaways:

 

PwC and the #techshecan Charter – Robyn Stephenson and Sheridan Ash

PwC launched The #techshecan Charter back in February. The Charter is designed to bring together organisations to tackle the root cause of why women are in the minority in the tech industry. PwC have identified that STEM education in schools is not appealing to young girls, therefore they drop the subjects in favour of something they feel they are more suited to.

Gender norms and societal pressures at such a young age is fuelling under-representation in the tech careers – not only gender based, but other minority groups such as BAME and LGBTQ. This was a really interesting seminar, and I applaud their efforts to increase the diversity mix at PwC by going right back to the root cause and potentially waiting 15-20 years before we see any of the talent come through the education system and into employment age.

#techshecan collaborates with organisations to make the shift in education at a government level – working to reduce the amount of stereotypical representation children see and learn about during their early years education. In short, the Charter aims to change education from a young age so that girls feel that it is a career they can not only get into, but excel at.

 

The importance of building advocacy for ourselves – Helen Hunter, Group CDO of Sainsbury’s Group

This was my favourite seminar. Helen has a very candid way of speaking about her accidental career into data and technology. She surprised herself given that she has “an innate fear of maths”-  as she put it. Helen also has a family, and is incredibly passionate about self-promotion and supporting parents returning to work following a new addition.

On the topic of self-promotion, or “building organisational advocacy – both in private and in public”, Helen uncovers the mystery some employees experience when they see their colleagues being promoted ahead of them. She used the Johari Window method (ref here)- one which is decades old – to deliver useful tools to the audience for when they return back into the workplace.

Organisational advocacy is so important, yet so many misunderstand it’s power and how to correctly influence i.e. if you’re producing such great work, make sure people know! Build your personal brand, prove your worth and ensure that you check your “blind spot” regularly.

An interesting fact about feedback given by managers when an employee seeks it out and how it differs between men and women: Broadly speaking, men are given feedback on how they can enhance their business decision making skills and women are given feedback on behaviours. Helen’s point was not to complain that this is wrong, but to encourage the women in the room to ensure they probe for better feedback in order to support their development and careers.

The day was inspirational, thought provoking and educational. It was great to meet lots of people from other networks and find common ground, have debates and discussions. Oh, and there was a massive robot!

We have work to do in the tech industry to grow diversity. We need to be representative of the communities we are serving. That was a phrase repeated several times by many different speakers. They’ve got a point right? If the people writing the algorithms are over-represented by men, then we will likely be served up products, services and information that is skewed surely? Diversity in all of it’s senses means stronger workforces, more intense creativity and better business outcomes.

Growing your own advocacy and personal brand is key for anyone – not just women and not under-represented groups. As individuals, we don’t work on this anywhere near enough as and employers would certainly benefit from building this methodology into their development plans.

We all have a responsibility to the next generation that every single child feels that they can do anything they want to. The sad thing is a lot of children only get to see such a small percentage of what’s on offer out there, and then become disengaged because “that’s not for girls” or “you could never do that”. It’s time to smash through these ceilings and change the world.

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Retail evolution not extinction

A ‘seamless customer experience’ appears to be the current obsession for retailers – mobile, desktop, in-app – a preoccupation with working out what customers want, even before they do and they’re getting pretty good at it.  But Bricks and Mortar retailers have the added pressure of the in-store customer experience and this is where it’s all change.

I’ll continue to rant about the merits of brick and mortar retail (someone has to) but not because i’m old fashioned but because statistics say we should care. According to the ONS, while online sales continue to rise, e-commerce as a percentage of total retail sales in March 2018 was still only 17.4%.

I also read an interesting stat from Murphy Research in e-marketer that 69 percent of U.S. internet users make a retail brick and mortar purchase in an average month while only 22 percent make a retail purchase online in an average month (and 9 percent buy something online for in-store pickup).  Our own research conducted last year ‘shopper influencers’ also supports this hypothesis.

The importance of brick and mortar retail to a local economy and a town’s dynamic cannot be underestimated. Fewer shops equals fewer jobs, which increases instability and deprivation.  Fortunately, traditional retail isn’t dying it’s just changing and I personally don’t think retailers are keeping up with this pace of change and consumer demands for format, feel and functionality.

So, we had a look at smart home tech one of the fastest growing consumer categories – according to EY some 59% of UK households are expected to own a smart home device by 2022 – to see how or if retailers were capitalising on this surge in interest and the results were pretty insightful.

The study found that whilst 56 percent of adults have bought the latest must-have smart home tech including WIFI controlled security cameras, heating systems and speakers most have little idea how to use what they’ve bought.  To the extent that over 30% said they regretted buying at least one or more items of smart home technology because it proved so difficult to get up and running and many said they couldn’t get all their devices to connect – which is the whole point of having a ‘smart home’.

Coupled with this, nearly a third said they never read instructions or manuals when they buy a new piece of kit and 21 percent admitted that although they have a love of tech, they are intimidated by the complexities of it.

Of the most popular smart home tech items forty five percent said the trickiest bit of kit to install was security equipment including app-controlled doorbells, motion sensors and CCTV, followed by smart lighting (28%) and smart heating system (35%).

And despite its current popularity, 30 per cent of adults that have purchased a smart speaker such as the Amazon Echo or Google Home don’t understand or use all its functionality.

Smart home tech is popular, but people don’t know how to fully utilise it to meet their lifestyle needs – whether that’s convenience, money saving, leisure time or learning. Maybe the learning is lost for the majority of these customers because they chose to buy online but there’s clearly a customer need and experience that’s not being fulfilled by brick and mortar retailers.

We can talk endlessly about multi-channel integration, increased personalised experiences, fluid shopping between on and offline but ‘experience-centric’ shopping where consumers can ‘play’ and be served by a retail team that understand each product in detail and can match consumer need to product performance, is surely where brick and mortar retailers can always win?

We’ve seen huge strides in ‘experience’ shopping but there’s still a long way to go for brick and mortar retailers to make every customer visit worthwhile by fully utilising their USP – the fantastic team that meet and greet their customers every day.

Article by Daniel Todaro, Managing Director at Gekko

 

Read the full article here

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All the gear, no idea: 56% of consumers don’t know how to use their smart tech

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The results from a recent study published today by field marketing agency Gekko entitled ‘Smart Home Shopper’ reveals that more than half of Brits have purchased smart technology for their homes – but have little idea how to use it.  

The study which investigated smart home purchasing behaviour found that 56% of adults have bought the latest must-have smart home tech, including WIFI controlled security cameras, heating systems and speakers – but have been left scratching their heads when they get them home.  In fact, three in 10 consumers regretted buying at least one or more items of smart home technology because it proved so difficult to get up and running.

Nearly a third of adults say they never read instructions or manuals when they buy a new piece of kit, while 21% admit that although they have a love of tech, they are intimidated by the complexities of it. Thirteen per cent of consumers who have invested in smart home technology said they couldn’t get all their devices to connect – which is the whole point of having a ‘smart home’. More than one in 10 have used a piece of smart home tech once and never again.

The trickiest bit of kit to install was security equipment (45%), including app-controlled doorbells, motion sensors and CCTV, however 28% couldn’t get their smart lighting to work and 35% came unstuck when installing their smart heating system. Twelve per cent claimed poor WIFI connection made installation difficult and 15% confessed to lacking any technical ability.

Surprisingly and despite its current popularity, 30% of adults that have purchased a smart speaker such as the Amazon Echo or Google Home don’t understand all its functionality.

Those people that bought their smart home tech from a brick and mortar retail store did so to play, touch and feel the product (40%), get advice from sales staff (30%) and a demonstration (30%).

Daniel Todaro, MD, Gekko comments: “It’s clear from our study that smart home tech is popular, but people don’t know how to fully utilise the devices to meet their lifestyle needs – whether that’s convenience, money saving, leisure time or learning.    

This is a great opportunity for retailers, especially brick and mortar to improve the customer experience within the smart home tech category by having an environment where consumers can ‘play’ and a retail team that understand each product in detail and can match consumer need to product performance. By solution selling it’s a win win for the customer and the retailer – the retailer can enrich the sale by demonstrating the whole product portfolio and functionality and the customer gets a product that’s fit for purpose. 

Traditional retailers have never been under so much financial pressure to adapt to today’s market conditions, so they must use what they’ve got to make every customer visit worthwhile.” 

Read the article at retailtimes.co.uk

 

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SMART HOME: SEE THE LIGHT

The smart home is an area where indies can excel with their knowledge and service. Daniel Todaro, MD of field marketing agency Gekko, suggests how to move into this growing sector

Last year ERT’s Turning Point survey  identified that 38 per cent of independent electrical retailers didn’t think the smart home was right for their customers. Can you honestly say that reflects consumer demand in 2018 and is a commercially sound position to take?

The positive news is that techUK has identified that 39 per cent of people agree that connected technologies offer an attractive proposition, up 10 per cent year on year. With the appetite for smart products on the increase, energy supplier E.ON UK has reported that 73 per cent of households have already invested in some form of smart technology.

This is a huge indicator that the ‘connected home’ is a category with opportunity for all – and if you’re still in doubt, take advice from management consultancy Accenture. Its research shows that the connected home offers energy suppliers a potential £2 billion in revenue by 2020, driven mostly by adjacent smart markets, from connected kitchenware to smart sensors, and clearly defines the smart home to be a lucrative market.

It was also no surprise that the smart home really dominated CES, in particular smart speakers and voice control, which at present are gaining ground in the UK, where the market is expected to grow threefold from its recorded three per cent penetration. This UK growth will contribute to an industry with an estimated global worth of £225bn by 2020. That’s only two years into the very imminent future and to gain from this multibillion-pound category, ranging for any CE retailer should be a serious consideration.The breadth of current and potential future smart appliances that retailers will all be ranging, and the scale of business opportunity to package services from third parties around them, suggests smart homes will need to be a significant category in any independent’s range planning.

Following some extensive web ‘scraping’ by the Gekko team, the appeal of smart home is obvious, with retailers such as John Lewis, Currys and even Very.com ranging more connected-home products across all category segments. This includes home monitoring, home heating and smart speakers – all increasing average prices 47 per cent year on year.

So how do you tap into this market?

Relevant

It’s up to retailers to bridge this gap between desire and knowledge, offering consumers a choice complemented by a personalised service. This is an area where independent retailers can excel.

For those that are still sceptical, why not start small, ranging products that require limited 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 smart home solution, and a great way to introduce customers to the category.

Likewise, ranging at around £70, smart light bulbs such as Philips Hue, Hive or LIFX are a great smart-home product, allowing consumers to switch on their lights or change the colour depending on their mood, occasion or décor. In addition, these products link to a device such as Google Home and Amazon Alexa.

If you want to impress shoppers, this functionality can easily be set up in your store to provide a live demo and experience to your customers, but make sure you have a strong wi-fi connection to avoid disappointment. Awareness of connected home innovations is in the top three of current technology trends as published by techUK, which established that 77 per cent of those surveyed had some knowledge, but only one in 10 ‘know a lot’ about it.

Once you’ve established the category, move on to other areas, such as thermostats from the likes of Hive and Nest, which have seen ownership increase to eight per cent since 2016 and are set to grow with a recorded 32 per cent who say that they are interested in buying in the near future.

Consider the opportunity for independents to fill this gap in the category by offering customers solutions, such as professional installation or even additional training in-store from a staff member. Become a solution provider and make your store the destination for smart-home shoppers.Smart security products, such as the Ring Video Doorbell, Nest Cam and Hive View are also on the increase, up four per cent, and with the range of these devices from many brands at appealing price points, it’s becoming affordable. These products are the next step for those delving deeper into the connected home, with an average basket value of £173. However, the lifestyle benefits of these smart-home solutions will appeal to consumers, who are estimated to be activating an average of 8.7 connected home devices in any one household.

With all smart products, a general description of how they work may not suffice for customers. Before buying, many need to see it working just as it would in their own home, and experience the potential benefits to their lifestyle.

Aim to have a demo-ready model of each product to demonstrate their functionality to shoppers. Equip staff with a wi-fi-connected tablet. Even turning a lamp on and off remotely, will bring the product to life.

Don’t confuse shoppers with technical jargon. Make sure your staff are communicating what the smart home offers each individual, 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 smart home product, your staff have been thoroughly trained how to do so effectively and are able to answer any questions posed.

This is where your staff training is really key. Give your customers that experience of the smart home and inspire them to upgrade all their appliances to create a smart home for themselves.

And with the prospect for additional or repeat purchases, if you get your range right and your staff trained to create a connected-home experience, the smart-home category can become a cornerstone of a CE retailer’s business.

Read at ERTOnline

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Are retailers providing an experience that’s worth the trip?

Save the shops! A mantra I’ve heard numerous times having worked in retail for the last 20 years. Yes, consumers love shopping online, but there’s no doubt they want to preserve the ‘real’ shopping experience especially for high-value tech/electrical products.

Whether they are looking to upgrade an existing device, buy into a new product category such as the smart home, or make a distress purchase to replace a product that has failed, consumers are looking for a solution to a lifestyle problem. As a retailer, it’s within your power to provide this solution, offering consumers the right product for their needs and, in doing so, reinforcing why traditional retail is still the best platform to buy technology products.

I think there’s a big disconnect between what consumers need from retailers and the experience they get. We’ve recently seen the news that Maplin has collapsed into administration, yet the sale of tech/electrical goods is on the increase – one of the fastest growing categories. Consumer electronics retailing lends itself like no other as a tool for retailers to be more dynamic in showcasing solutions and brands to lure consumers.

The information gap

Let’s look for example at the popularity of streaming and how it’s driving the sale of hardware. Streaming is becoming increasingly the norm for many, curating the music, TV and media that’s preferred at a time that suits consumers’ lifestyle. Netflix revenues have increased 36% year-over-year and Apple’s purchase of Shazam for $400m shows the market is continuing to evolve.

These brands are the new media giants, beating down the once dominant studios who are now consolidating to survive. But without hardware and devices, none of this is possible. I’m ensconced in this world and most of the consumers we speak to have very little understanding of what hardware to purchase and want help and advice.

This is where retailers can win, but they are not making the most of their assets – the team on the ground. These people are the face of a retail brand, interacting with the customer, the first port of call, the golden ticket to success, the ones that can transform your business but only if appropriately trained – and therein lies the problem.

Make the most of being face-to-face

That first face to face interaction is critical; sales staff should be asking key questions of consumers to discover why they are in the store and their needs, budget and motivations.

Are they looking to buy new, upgrade a device or has something broken down and needs replacing? What do they currently have? What specific features do they require? Where will it be used? How often? Is it a primary or secondary device? What is their preferred price range? A customer wants reassurance that the product will meet their needs and solve their ‘problem’.

It is important to ensure your staff can demonstrate the product, are trained on core ranges and brands so that they can explain the benefits to shoppers and don’t make the mistake of ignoring what the shopper has told them so that the features link naturally to the customer’s lifestyle or specific needs. This could make all the difference to their decision to purchase, helping to close the sale.

Shoppers need to know how the product will solve their unique ‘problem’ so that they walk away satisfied and hopefully come back for more. Online will never be able to provide this level of service so retailers need to take control of their destiny and provide consumers with an experience that was worth the trip.

Click here to read the article on The Drum

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THE CASE FOR SMART TECH

Smart tech was everywhere at CES with the latest OLED TVs, an 8K debut from LG and a suitcase that follows its owner around, Gekko managing director Daniel Todaro looks at the latest innovations from the show

CES in Vegas is where the globe’s technology brands for the past 51 years have converged to brag, showcasing what they are doing in advancing technology.

This year, an estimated 3,900 exhibitors from 150 nations will have done so to over 180,000 forecast visitors and a global media audience. An impromptu power cut only added to its media appeal, gaining it more mainstream coverage than ever before.

No surprise was that the smart home dominated, with Google announcing that its Assistant had sold more than six million units – that’s one every second – and also now runs on 400m devices globally. Unfortunately, there are no statistics from Amazon, but with more than 1,500 smart-home devices from more than 225 brands, all supporting Google Assistant, the winner may have been identified.

A lot of third-party brands are choosing to support multiple AI platforms, not wanting to gamble on a specific one. As a result, there are many now supporting multiple AI platforms in particular Alexa and Google Assistant integration, which dominated CES.

Not Samsung, though, whose Bixby assistant was integrated into a smart fridge with AKG speakers, making it a multimedia centre for your kitchen. Its only real game-changing feature is the ability to create smart notes sent remotely by users via text message to inform those in the home of messages like ‘buy more toilet rolls’.

What these innovations offer brands and retailers are alternative methods to engage passively with users, introducing new, intuitive technology into the home. Ordering shampoo or switching to another ‘recommended’ brand, while in the shower, further enables new advertising opportunities and gives retailers different purchasing channels perhaps never before considered.

LG OLED
LG OLED

Despite changing viewing habits influenced by ‘streaming’, TV remained a headline-grabber at CES. In particular for LG, whose dominance in the category is propelling the brand into pole position.

Firstly, it introduced us to the rather neat 65in LG roll-up TV – a 4K panel that curls up like a blind and unfolds into a 65in panel. Quite how the OLED screen is able to completely roll away, while still remaining rigid, is a secret that LG isn’t willing to share.

The display doesn’t have to be completely retracted. You can lower it only part-way, allowing you to change its aspect ratio from 16:9 to the cinematic 21:9, meaning you can enjoy your ultra-wide movies without those black bars.

With another press of the remote, the panel retracts to a wide strip at the top that can be used to show smart-home information, music controls, or whatever other updates you want to see. As it’s still a prototype, don’t expect availability or pricing any time soon.

OLED, launched at CES 10 years ago, is now the lead form factor in TV, and with an estimated 2.35m units predicted in 2018, up 1.4m on 2017. It’s now 25 per cent of the premium [over £1,000] TV market. Other notable brands launching new OLED ranges were Sony and Panasonic.

LG, not content with one a show-stopper, also launched its 88in 8K OLED screen, offering 33m pixels and it may be here sooner than you think. While the feature film Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 was shot in 8K, there is virtually no 8K content available. There are plans to roll out full 8K services by 2018, with Japan once again leading the way. The plan is to air the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in 8K through broadcaster NHK, so TVs may well begin to go on sale in time for the 2020 summer Olympics.

Among all the connected home fever at CES were two of my favourite innovations. The first was the ForwardX CX-1 smart suitcase, which knows its owner using face-recognition to follow you through the airport concourse. It also comes with a smart wristband, just in case it loses you.

The second was the L’Oréal UV Sense. I think it’s perhaps the biggest game-changer and possibly the one that will become mainstream sooner. It’s a battery-free adhesive disc that measures UV exposure for the wearer. It’s relatively unobtrusive and uses NFC to let you retrieve your data with your mobile device. Its applications are infinite.

L’Oreal’s presence at CES demonstrates how technology can become mainstream through the most passive of devices and categories, creating a challenge for all marketers and retailers.

 

To read the article at ERT click here

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