Tag Archives: Smart Home

KEEP CUSTOMERS IN-STORE FOR LONGER

The show must go on

Retailers need to give people a reason to come into their stores and an experience that will keep them there for longer, and learn from the stores that are doing it right, says Daniel Todaro, MD of field marketing agency Gekko

 

In these challenging times, in-store theatre is possibly the retailer’s most powerful and effective way to attract more customers and convert more sales.

Some may argue that Maplin was a great loss to the high street, and I agree, as it served a niche exceptionally well. For the casual passer-by, however, it didn’t entice them in to browse and spend. It lacked theatre that appealed to a wider audience by not defining its ranging to demonstrate that it was a category expert – the place to go.

So what could Maplin have done better to attract a more diverse customer base and stand a chance of surviving? Perhaps translating the customer journey seamlessly through all of its marketing to entice a customer in to purchase through the power of in-store theatre?

When any kind of advertising is used, print, online or broadcast, the stock needs to be in place and the display easily understood, with the message clear to passers-by to remind them of what they saw in the advert. This should culminate in a working display that engages the consumer, backed by knowledgeable sales assistants to guide the customer through the brand experience and close the sale.

Up to 77 per cent of consumers say they research products before buying from a retailer in-store. For electronics, 52 per cent of those turn up in-store to see it, feel it and hear it with a view to then go and buy it online. This need not be so if the customer experience is exemplary and the interaction insightful. The shopper will more often than not be converted and buy on the day, because the item was in stock and the ‘considered’ sale was made easier with the help of knowledgeable sales staff and associated in-store theatre.

A recent above-the-line brand campaign we ran achieved 47 per cent of all sales within 21 per cent of a retailer’s estate by using retail theatre. Bringing the product to life in a real-world environment enabled consumers to understand the product and how they could use it in their connected home.

 

Beautiful

John Lewis recently invested £33 million in its new store at Westfield, London – and it is a beautiful store. It is laid out exceptionally well, but what makes it different from other stores is its theatre. They really get the concept of retail as theatre, as does the luxury sector, which cossets you in the brand.

While the luxury sector appeals to a narrow demographic, John Lewis appeals to a wider and, in some instances, very specific and aspirational audience.

In the CE category, this retailer appeals to the tech-savvy generation that are no longer having to take advice from the kids as they are wiser and more digitally active. Its approach is all-encompassing with an entrance that draws you in, with staff greeting you as you ascend through the store, and pointing you in the right direction should you find yourself getting lost.

The customer journey continues with a well laid-out and working display with a ‘partner’ on hand, should you need one, to guide you through the sale and down to the customer collection point. All strategically choreographed so you can carry on shopping or enjoy the catering on each level – all designed to keep you in-store for longer.

On the flip side, House of Fraser is considering closing 45 of its 59 stores, and Debenhams has reported an 85 per cent drop in profits and put part of the blame on the weather. That’s embarrassing.

Don’t just blame the weather, look at your stores. Where’s the theatre, where are the staff, where’s the customer journey that achieves a sale and entices the new shopper to come back again? Strip lighting, staff that daren’t make eye contact, clutter and constant ‘offers’ aren’t conducive to theatre and a positive customer experience.

There are independents that do theatre well, because they know the value of this investment in increasing footfall and converting sales. Take last year’s ERT Awards Turning Point panellists – Purewell, Moss of Bath and Avensys. They all evidently appreciate the value that theatre has added to their businesses to ease the shopper into a sale. Moss of Bath has seen custom installation grow beyond all recognition from what it was 10 years ago because it brought theatre into its showroom.

Owner Tim Moss has encouraged retailers to “make your showroom less about boxes and more about theatre – show customers something they haven’t experienced before”.

 

Future

Avensys head of retail Martin Jukes adds: “The smart home is the dream for a lot of our customers and that’s where we see our future. If you don’t do it now, you’re going to get left behind.”

Purewell operations manager Ed Griffiths says: “It’s very easy and churlish to think that your customers wouldn’t want the smart home – show it to them. Seeing is believing – people will want it.”

Some top brands also know the power of retail theatre – Apple, Dyson and rather interestingly the four UK mobile carriers EE, Vodafone, 3 and O2. They have become retailers and have decided to sell direct – and are successful at it. This dynamic industry spends proportionately more than others on refits to make sure it stays in vogue. The commodity is turned into a desire, because we always must have a device in our pocket, and the network we choose is not only driven by service and perceived value for money, but also a reflection of our personality. With more than 1,800 outlets across the UK, they are often anchor stores in a high street and offer retail theatre, so increasing footfall on the high street generally.

Coffee shops are a good cue to learn from, too, as their success depends on the way in which the space is used for social engagement, work or as an office. An office where your rent each day is the coffee you’ll order first, then the snack – and so it goes on, with no pressure to leave. Most chains continue to make a profit and are the one retail sector on the increase on our embattled high streets. It’s retail theatre disguised as leisure.

The merger of Carphone Warehouse and Dixons has developed theatre to great effect by borrowing from their respective expertise to blend something quite special. An engaging environment that evolves the proposition to appeal to those with the spending power in line with trends and the consumer zeitgeist. Pulling on all its brands as ‘partners’ to come along on the journey enables both the retailer, and the brands, to succeed together.

Investing in theatre that enhances the experience can bring brands closer to the right people, and the right people closer to the brand.

 

See the original article at ERT Online

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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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New study by Gekko reveals that SMART HOME TECH IS LEAVING NOT SO SMART BRITS BAFFLED

The results from a recent study this week by field marketing agency Gekko entitledSmart Home Shopper’ reveals that more than half of Brits have purchased smart technology for their homes – but have no idea how to use it.  The survey by was conducted among 1000 UK consumers between that ages of 18 and 55+.

The study which investigated smart home purchasing behaviour found that 56 percent 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 ten 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 percent admit that although they have a love of tech, they are intimidated by the complexities of it.  Thirteen percent 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 ten 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 percent couldn’t get their smart lighting to work and 35 per cent came unstuck when installing their smart heating system. Twelve percent claimed poor WIFI connection made installation difficult and 15 percent confessed to lacking any technical ability.

Surprisingly 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 all its functionality.

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

Dan 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 smart home tech to meet their lifestyle needs – whether that’s convenience, money saving, leisure time or learning.

This is a great opportunity for retailers, especially bricks 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.”

Other key statistics:

Key Stats – Pain:

  • 50% of consumers invested in smart home tech purely because they like trying new gadgets and 30% to save money
  • 54% of consumers think smart home tech is too expensive
  • 17% of consumers get stressed out trying to operate their smart home tech

Key Stats – Passion:

  • Consumers tend to use their smart home speakers for playing music (56%), getting answers to questions (46%), getting news & weather updates (35%) and making notes (27%)

Key Stats – Purchasing:

Thirty Seven per cent of consumers went to bricks and mortar stores to by their smart home tech so that they could play, touch and feel the product (40%), get advice from sales staff (30%) and a demonstration (30%)

 

Read Gekko research here

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

Gekko - Google Retail blog image

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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The best place for the home to get smart is on the high street

It’s no surprise that the Smart Home dominated last month’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) with a whole range of evolution and innovation across security, home appliances and energy management. The trend has no doubt been expedited by the huge success of intelligent assistants with Google announcing that their Home devices sold over 6 million units, that’s one every second, and now Google Assistant runs on over 400 third party devices globally.

Many brands, such as Samsung, have opted to support their brands by integrating their own technology. Its lesser-known Bixby Assistant was integrated into its Smart Fridge with AKG speakers, making it a multimedia centre for the kitchen. Kholer showcased its intelligent bathroom ‘Konnect tech’ enabling your shower, bathtub, toilet, mirror and tap to be connected, both to you and each other. The company’s Touchless Response technology provides hands-free toilet flushing, perfect for those germophobes.

The market is evolving and in 2018 it will start to get a lot more crowded as the category grows from Amazon and Google offering their own speakers in a variety of form factors but also Google, Alexa and Siriin other hardware brands like Sonos. Sonos have already released the Sonos One with Alexa, and they have hopes to integrate Siri and Google Assistant soon. Apple’s HomePod will hit homes but Siri offers some weak competition as it struggles to develop its voice recognition. Yamaha, Libratone, and DTS all announced Alexa driven smart speakers this year, with SonyPhilips and LG announcing Google Assistant integration into their smart products.

And here lies the problem. Confused already? Indeed. Understand what’s compatible with what system? Probably not. Do you know if your Ring Video Doorbell can be hooked up to your Google Home, so you can speak to any visitors without having your smart phone to hand? If you’re reading this, you probably work in marketing and are classed an early adopter. Imagine what it’s like for everyone else seeing and hearing about these products everywhere they go and no idea what to do and how to integrate them.

Smart Home retail value is expected to reach £5.11bn worldwide this year and according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), while online sales continue to rise, e-commerce as a percentage of total retail sales in December 2017 was still only 18%. We also know that a Smart Home device in many instances requires an assisted sale. It’s a considered purchase and for some, a rather complicated buying process with further concerns about installation and integration with existing technology.

This is a great opportunity for traditional retailers to excel and showcase why they are still the best channel for selling ‘technology’ products using the retail environment to educate, engage and sell to the consumer through driving excitement and experience directly with the brand.

Our own research shows that even among today’s tech savvy 18 to 24-year-olds, more than 40% prefer to head in-store to see, touch and experience a product before buying, rising to 58% for the over 55s. Most surprising is that 38% of 18 to 24-year-olds want a personal service and recommendation from in-store staff, the highest among of all the age categories.

When we asked what advertising has influenced a considered purchase, none of the mainstream advertising channels were cited as influential: just 7.5% for TV, 8.7% for website, 4.6% for social media, 3% for billboard and 2% for newspaper and print. Advertising in-situ within the retail environment however was rated the key influencing factor at 19%.

This is a clear signal that traditional retailers should spend time and money working with staff on the shop floor and make the consumer experience as good as it can be as it will pay for itself through category development and increased sales at a higher average sales price – a win win for both retailer and brand.

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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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

Henrynativity

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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