Tag Archives: IoT

Market intelligence

amazon-echo-banner

The term AI is being bandied about in all forms of media, but do many people actually understand how Artificial Intelligence is now becoming part of the consumer-electronics landscape in some of the most everyday products – almost making smart technology seem old hat by comparison.

The reality is that in order for AI to function, you need smart devices to metaphorically ‘join the dots’ to create an AI solution that works for you in your environment.

Probably the most recognised mainstream AI product to come to market is the Amazon Echo, which is expected to sell three million units in 2016, with forecasts of 10m for 2017. You’ll know the product – it’s that black cylinder with a blue pulsating light on top, promoted through those awful adverts where some chap asks Alexa to add tennis balls and dog biscuits to his shopping list.

In essence, Amazon Echo and its sibling Dot – which has no speaker but effectively does the same thing – are intended to be your assistant, connecting all your smart devices.

Combined with other IoT products, Echo enables you to voice-control your heating, lights, online orders, music streaming and on-demand services like Uber.

It’s impressive stuff, but you’ll always have to ask for Alexa, prefacing all requests with her name, which may make you feel somewhat daft. After all, the only device I want to talk to is my phone, as part of a conversation with a human being. I’m sure I’ll adapt to AI over time. Generations younger than me and in the future will think this the norm – making AI a surefire success and as commonplace in the home as a TV or a tablet.

While Amazon’s product is reasonably priced, its users have fed back so far that 87 per cent are satisfied with the device. Eighty-five per cent use Echo to set alarms, 82 per cent to play music, and two-thirds ask for news updates. Overall, 39 per cent of Echo users plan to increase their usage as support grows for the platform, which will be intrinsically linked to bolstering Amazon’s revenues.

This remains unlikely, however, when you consider what’s coming next – Google Home. The future of AI in the home is way more than just a ‘smart speaker’, as the category is being tagged. This innovation outclasses all other mainstream AI devices when you consider its compatibility across all Google platforms, including YouTube, Google Maps and third-party streaming services such as Netflix and Open Table. Finally, it’s compatible across all OS devices, but complemented by all ‘Made by Google’ devices from Pixel to Chromecast.

Google Home changes the game by setting the state of play in the ‘smart speaker’ category, taking it to the next level and setting the benchmark many will struggle to follow.

AI is a mainstay, not a gimmick, which will intrinsically evolve with your devices, appliances, streaming platforms and all forms of entertainment. Alongside VR, it’s the next big thing estimated to become a $2 billion-plus category by 2020 that you can’t afford to ignore.

With an estimated $400 million being invested in 2016 on content development, the industry has established Virtual Reality as a credible platform over and above Sony’s PlayStation VR, which is estimated to sell 2.6 million units in 2016 alone.

What VR will potentially help is declining PC sales, as users transition to tablets and phablets. With an eight per cent decline in global PC sales, it’s unlikely that VR will fill the gap, however it will assist in particular within the PC gaming category.

VR will, it’s believed, be a $50bn industry by 2021, with only half of that generated from gaming. So the rest is to play for, with smartphone adoption accounting for seven per cent of the market, but interestingly achieving a higher volume due to the low cost of VR equipment. Those familiar with VR will know Cardboard, which has been around, in tech years, for ages. But now we have Google Daydream, a device that yet again changes the market with innovation, design and distribution only challenged by the Samsung Gear (Oculus).

Whichever way you view it, both VR and AI are here to stay and the new kids on the block are stealing a march. There was a time that many thought these innovations would come out of Infinite Loop, instead it’s evolving from Mountain View and Terry Avenue. For the times they are a-changin’.

 

Read more at: http://ertonline.co.uk/opinion/market-intelligence/

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Smart staff for a smart sale

smart-home-banner

The smart home has arrived, the Internet of Things is gradually making its way into everything from kitchen appliances to thermostats, and you’ll soon be able to control most things in your house from your phone.

The global market for smart-home appliances is expected to be worth $38.35 billion (£28.9bn) by 2020, and is only expected to grow further as our homes become more and more ‘connected’.

In the UK, sales of smart-home technology have increased by 81 per cent year on year, according to John Lewis. Although 66 per cent of UK consumers agree that the smart home is an appealing concept, many retailers are experiencing problems when trying to train their staff to sell this category, which presents some major challenges.

Despite technologically aware customers showing interest, there is still a lower level of demand for smart-home products over conventional ones, meaning that sales staff have limited opportunities to talk ‘smart home’. In some cases, this leads to apathy when it comes to investing time into training. This is not helped by the fact that many staff still believe that this type of technology is the future rather than the present.

It is critical that sales staff understand that they need to educate themselves and develop an interest in this emerging category.

As predicted, virtually all products will become connected over the coming years, so any purchase of a smart product is a safe bet for the future. With 3,427 smart products on the market (from 439 brands) – an increase of 61 per cent – the market is growing.

Another major challenge for retailers is that many consumers struggle to understand the concept of the smart home and its benefits. A quarter of UK consumers cite a ‘lack of knowledge’ as their main reason for not purchasing a smart-home product. Many customers, once given an explanation, understand how the smart home works, but still struggle to see how it will improve or enrich their lifestyle.

Staff need to be trained on how to sell the benefits of the smart home, giving shoppers some context as to how the technology may fit into their lives. A lack of hands-on experience with smart-home products means it is hard for store staff to explain the real-life uses for this technology. It’s no coincidence that higher sales come from those staff that own the product, as they are able to give practical examples of how the connected home has benefited them.

To overcome these barriers, it is perhaps helpful for retailers to move away from selling the ‘technology’ itself and instead outline for customers how the tech interacts with their lifestyle and delivers real, tangible benefits.

Sales personnel should ask more pertinent questions of the customer to establish their wants and needs in order to demonstrate the relevant connected-home product that will enhance and improve their life.

Currently, sales colleagues tend to focus too much on the broadband internet connection, app or other technology involved, which for many shoppers, while essential to know, is still a baffling science and serves to create unnecessary confusion.

A change in approach is vital for retailers to sell the smart home – focus on the benefits rather than the technology itself. Early adopters already understand the technology, but if these products are going to become truly mass-market, it is necessary to make the category simple and relevant to every consumer.

The smart-home landscape is changing as it becomes more sophisticated and reliable. More products will be smart-enabled, as demonstrated by SoftBank with its recent purchase of semiconductor IP company Arm Holdings.

IFA 2016 will without doubt exhibit significantly more innovation from more brands for the smart category. It’s the brave that will survive in this ever-changing market.

 

Read more at http://ertonline.co.uk/opinion/smart-staff-for-a-smart-sale/

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Have a techie New Year

sonos banner

Oh no, it’s happened again. The peak sales period is upon us and while consumers are getting over Black Friday and preparing for Christmas, retailers will be trying to predict the big sellers for 2016.

The next phase of growth is going to come from the Internet of Things (IoT), which is only going to be more relevant and significant in our lives as we all become even more connected.

The retail landscape is evolving and the need to be current in your ranging is as important as the service and experience you provide.

SDA

Kitchen tech is continuing to battle for space on our worksurfaces and in the lead we still have blenders. This trend is sure to continue into the New Year, with the Nutribullet, Magimix and Nutri Ninja taking breakfast by storm for millions of smoothie lovers. Health blenders are a fantastic gift for any health-conscious individual looking to lose a pinch after all that Christmas feasting. John Lewis on Oxford Street sold an average 100 health juicers a day during ‘peak’ in 2014.

Streaming

Music streaming and multi-room speaker devices are expected to be a huge hit, with innovative products like Google’s Chromecast Audio streaming music from your smartphone, tablet, Chromebook or PC to any speaker in your home.

Likewise, multi-room speaker systems from Sonos will continue to be popular, but don’t forget alternative solutions from Bose and LG.

A perfect gift for audiophiles, music streaming is becoming mainstream with physical music now a collector’s pastime. Take the opportunity to attach sales of streaming devices to non-connected speakers, or upsell to a future-ready connected speaker system. Sales of connected audio devices such as soundbars, wireless speakers, headphones, etc, are expected to increase to 267 million units in 2018, up from 58m in 2014.

Multimedia

Streaming devices turn any screen into a multimedia centre and the leader of the pack is by far Google Chromecast and Chromecast Audio, both the easiest sale you’ll ever make – only £30 to turn any TV with an HDMI port into a smart TV. The original Chromecast sold over 20m units, so expect the updated model to sell even more. Other streaming devices, such as Now TV, allow users to purchase one-time subscriptions to premium channels, meaning they can watch the Boxing Day football on Sky without having to pay for an expensive box and subscription.

However, if users prefer not to pay for content, it’s no longer necessary to have an expensive subscription service as they can now have Freeview Play built into Panasonic TVs or upgrade any TV with a Humax set-top box.

Home tech

Smart home solutions are an inexpensive and practical gift for many and connected security cameras are fast becoming an IoT mainstay. Coming in from around £50, a smart security device, such as a connected doorbell or camera to monitor your house and pets remotely, would make a good addition to any home. Brands to look at include Motorola and Belkin.

With a cold winter in prospect, a smart thermostat can give homeowners complete control over their heating, wherever they are using their smartphone. Hive’s newest smart thermostat is a stylish statement for the home, with its unique design adding to its great practical features and fantastic app.

Appliances

Sales of smart devices are expected to explode over the next five years, so it’s no surprise to see brands across the home appliances spectrum, including Hoover, LG, Samsung and Whirlpool, investing in connected appliances.

Smart appliances from the likes of LG can also be integrated with existing smart thermostats, monitoring activity and setting appliances to switch on or change setting automatically when it deems best for a family’s lifestyle.

Retailers can get ahead of the curve, offering shoppers a connected product that will integrate with their existing smart devices and, more importantly, IoT products they are perhaps likely to purchase in years to come.

Wearables

Fitness wearables and smartwatches show no sign of abating, with sales of fitness gadgets having increased by 900 per cent over the past year, according to Dixons Carphone.

The New Year is a time when people’s thoughts turn to getting fit, and fitness wearables such as the Fitbit Charge HR are packed full of features.

A great way to sell the benefits of fitness wearables is to give them to staff to wear on the shopfloor. Linking the devices to their own smartphone will also help them to demonstrate the features.

Across every category, there is innovation to suit all pockets. Show your consumers how these innovative products work together, not as separate products. Do them justice and show your customers what the IoT is all about and how great it can be.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Make the most of the Shopper Journey this Spring

window vac banner

With spring cleaning on shoppers’ minds, a fresh wave of potential customers will be coming into store hunting for the best appliances to spruce up their homes and meet their IoT [Internet of Things] needs.

This poses an opportunity for increased sales, so it’s time for retailers to match consumer enthusiasm by entering new categories and stocking this wave of innovative products.

Floorcare and handheld cleaning appliance brands, such as Kärcher and Electrolux, will be taking advantage of this increased consumer demand by releasing above-the-line campaigns and promotions for the spring. Retailers should take advantage of these campaigns as they can drive footfall into store.

Retailers need to complete the customer experience. Make sure your store is properly 
merchandised to draw attention to these hero products. Guide consumers on a shopper journey and convert them into shoppers.

With the economy picking up, consumers are willing to spend that little bit extra to get the best products that will improve their lifestyles, with reduced power consumption and ease of use.
Recent research by Gekko shows that there has been a seven per cent drop in consumer cost-consciousness over the past year. With this in mind, retailers should look to enter new categories and begin stocking innovative products.

We can see from the rise in popularity of such products that consumers are willing to pay for the added benefits brought by innovation. Cordless ‘handstick’ vacuums are an excellent example. With space at a premium, handsticks have rocketed in popularity since entering the market in 2013, as people are doing away with conventional vacuum cleaners. The sector is now worth £64 million. With the average handstick costing around £200, consumers are clearly interested in purchasing premium, innovative products, as long as the lifestyle benefits are clear.

The rise of smart appliances will also make a big impact this year, as more consumers become aware and understand that the IoT is no longer a concept, it’s real. With many shoppers looking to replace their outdated appliances as part of the spring spruce-up, electrical retailers should capitalise on the current smart-home trend to increase sales of premium appliances.

Smart appliances, such as the Samsung WaterWall range of dishwashers and Grundig’s MultiSense washing machine, are good examples, incorporating smart technology into everyday appliances. Why not try a new category like the smart home, with products such as the Hive smart thermostat?

What’s important for retailers is to have trained staff that can properly explain these benefits.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,