Tag Archives: Technology

Identify the problem

Consumer electronics retailing lends itself like no other as a tool for retailers to be more dynamic in showcasing solutions and brands for consumers.

Retailers are experiencing growth across all categories, including a 1.5 per cent sales uplift in major domestic appliances expected through to 2021, of which 20 per cent of sales are made in the independent sector. Likewise, the UK small domestic appliance market was worth £976 million in 2016, and is expected to grow further this year.

Whether they are looking to upgrade an existing device, enter into a new product ecosystem, 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. The question is: what is the best approach to take for ‘solution selling’?

The problem

Ensure that sales staff know the products and services inside-out. Having an authoritative voice on the shopfloor to reassure consumers is the first step to completing that considered purchase.

Aside from this, a successful salesperson needs to employ a range of skills, including questioning, listening and demonstrating empathy with the customer.

Identifying the problem is the first step to finding a solution. Sales staff should be asking key questions of consumers to discover their needs, budget and motivations. Find out why the shopper is in the store. 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 it will be used? How often? Is it a primary or secondary device? What is their preferred price range? Asking these questions will give your staff the necessary information to start the sales process in line with your store sales approach, using the customer’s needs to tailor their approach to products and brands that will suit them and their lifestyle.

It’s often too easy for sales staff to make assumptions about what is best for the customer, rather than asking questions. Equally, applying your own spend versus value opinion is not identifying with your customer, as value is in the eye of the spender, not the salesperson. To avert a hard sell, avoid these pitfalls and ensure your staff are fully qualifying shoppers before moving on to a demonstration.

Offer the solution

Once the customer’s needs have been established, sales staff can advise on the best product and brand specifically for the individual shopper. For retailers, selling the solution is all about the customer experience, and how the customer is introduced and immersed into the product and brand.

Your showroom environment should offer consumers the opportunity to experience a product or brand before they decide to make a purchase, allowing them to immerse themselves in the features and benefits of the product first-hand.

With the assistance of a knowledgeable staff member, your customer wants to be reassured that the product will meet their needs and solve their ‘problem’. To achieve this, have a working demo model to show customers how the device would function in their own home. Even if it’s something simply, like demonstrating the load capacity on a washing machine using a bag of T-shirts, this gives customers an extra bit of information that could make all the difference to their decision to purchase, helping to close the sale.

Above all, ensure your staff are trained on core ranges and brands so that they can explain the benefits to shoppers. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring what the shopper has told you, so that the features link naturally to the customer’s lifestyle or specific needs. Shoppers need to know how the product will solve their unique ‘problem’.

Personalise the sales approach. If your customers can see the product working, imagine it in their home, and be sure that it will fit their lifestyle, listen and tailor your responses accordingly and they’re much more likely to make a purchase.

Upgrade the solution

To upgrade from a standard sales approach to a ‘solution selling’ approach, the sales staff need to identify and enquire about the bigger picture, identifying opportunities and sweeping their customer up with a great shopping experience.

On top of offering a solution during the sales process, staff have the opportunity to ‘level up’ the sale by showing customers how much more they can achieve from their purchase by increasing their budget, in some cases marginally.

Having established the customer’s needs and advised on a product to suit their lifestyle, take them one step further by offering attachment sales that can enhance or protect the product. A good example is TV, where many shoppers will be looking for a perfect set-up to upgrade their home. Having decided on a TV, why not introduce a soundbar to the sale, demonstrating the superior sound quality offered and how that can enhance the user experience.

Gekko is expert in delivering this sort of training to retail staff, achieving an average 33 per cent soundbar attachment rate on TV sales. These sorts of high-value attachments benefit both your customers and your bottom line by increasing your average sale value. With this sales approach, Gekko was able to increase average sale value by 41 per cent over the entry-level smart TV.

When completing the sale, think about other questions you can ask the customer. For example, to get the most out of this smart TV, the customer will need an internet connection. Do they have good wi-fi in the living room? No, then how about some wi-fi range extenders? That could also include a cover plan or installation service. In this way, you’re demonstrating to the customer why they were right to come in-store and experience the product in a way they could never have done if they had simply shopped online.

This approach to solution selling is positive for both customer and retailer. The customer has a solution to their purchasing ‘problem’, having been advised and immersed in the best product and brand for their needs by a knowledgeable staff member.

Equally, the store benefits from up-selling and attachment sales as a result of this more considered approach to sales. The key focus though is the customer experience – if shoppers are given a ‘glimpse into the future’ – imagining themselves using the product and how it can fit into their lifestyle – they are much more likely to make that decision to purchase there and then.

They may also come back to expand a set-up, buy that matching MDA or simply choose your store for every future ‘technology’ purchase, because they know they will be listened to, offered solutions, given a service they appreciate and will enjoy the experience.

 

Read more at: http://ertonline.co.uk/opinion/identify-the-problem/

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Take control of your destiny

ERT  has taken the brave step to look at how independent retail can be supported and survive, marking the start of a ‘Turning Point’ in the future of independent electrical retail.

Rent and rates increases and the Living Wage are just a few of the challenges retailers must combat. They can do this with a smart approach and by giving consumers what they desire, either in-store or online as an omnichannel approach.

One of our leading retailers, Robert Hughes, states that “personalisation and localisation is relevant” – sound advice from an independent group that is growing successfully.

Reliance on manufacturers to ‘do more’ is old-fashioned and misplaced. Manufacturers do not have a responsibility to reinvigorate electrical retail – it’s a collective responsibility.

With a falling pound, lower margins and greater competition in crowded categories, waiting for a brand to invest sufficiently in you is unlikely. Retailers need to be in control of their destiny and reinvigorate their model to appeal to all. Get brands to support you on training, promotion and display. Ask your buying group for those valuable generic soft skills that give you the ability to develop the categories that work for you.

Independents need to look for new opportunities for growth. The most obvious is the smart home, which is going to be linked to almost every category within the sector. With Gartner suggesting it could become a global market worth $38.35 billion by 2020 – that’s only three years away – the smart home is the future of electrical retail.

Independents have an opportunity to offer consumers a shopping experience not found in large multiples.

In the TV/AV category, 62 per cent of shoppers are between the ages of 30 and 49. One-in eight are male. This is an increasingly important statistic and, to quote Sony sales director for specialists Roy Dickens, the growth opportunity is “crossing the threshold into the consumer’s home” to install a solution, increasing attachment by offering a service that provides an end-to-end solution.

In domestic appliances, 70 per cent of shoppers are between the ages of 30 and 49. More than half (55 per cent) of shoppers in the category are female. This demonstrates the existence of ‘generation rent’, who don’t own their own homes and would be more inclined to rent MDAs.

Although shoppers with disposable income are in the older age brackets, don’t discount younger audiences. Many categories are more relevant to a younger audience – a prime example being audio. With just over half (52 per cent) of 16 to 24-year-olds regularly streaming music online, increasing your range helps to broaden your store’s appeal.

The omnichannel approach is an important part of the strategy and should be embraced as a method of attracting customers in-store whether, virtually or in person. The experience they encounter is what makes a shopper become a customer.

Retailers must ensure their staff can sell the benefits of high-value products. This can only be done through staff training, display, promotion and experience by retailers, supported by manufacturers, to achieve the combined approach needed to influence that ‘turning point’.

 

Read more at http://ertonline.co.uk/opinion/take-control-of-your-destiny/

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Is tech on any of the main parties’ radar ahead of the General Election?

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Whilst we may all be feeling election fatigue, we still have several days of bitter, nationalist electioneering from more parties than we have ever had to choose from in the UK.

Do any of the parties come up with anything radically new? No. Technology does not seem to be high on many parties lists of priorities – but you decide who gets your vote come 7th May.

Of the top three, Labour mention ‘a longer term approach to drive innovation’, advocating continued advancement in digital and manufacturing technologies as a way to help business.

The Conservatives promise to have 95% of the country covered by superfast broadband by 2017, along with 90% of UK landmass covered by voice and SMS coverage by 2017, and the Lib Dem manifesto contains a section called ‘securing global leadership in technology’.

Here they highlight the competitive advantage that the UK has in key digital sectors and the need to support this area of the economy and that 15% of new companies last year were digital companies. They also state that the digital sector in the UK currently employs around 1.5 million people.

The UKIP manifesto is light on any mention of technology. However in the Education section they have a paragraph stating “to increase the uptake of science learning at secondary level, we will follow the recommendations of the Campaign for Science and Engineering and require every primary school to nominate a science leader to inspire and equip the next generation.”

The Green Party manifesto also has a small section on science and technology. Although technology is mentioned, it is not directly detailed in the policies, which include the free publication of all publicly funded research, preventing the patenting of genes and living organisms, and conducting research ethically.

The SNP talk about research and creativity, pointing out the technology and innovation are central to economic growth across Europe. They support increases in R&D financial ceilings that will allow large scale EU projects to go forward. Plaid Cymru are keen to develop a new manufacturing strategy for Wales, which will take advantage of the existing skills, helped by research and development.

They also highlight the need for children to understand the technology around them, through coding and advanced computer technology development lessons, such as the Raspberry Pi device.

The key messages from most parties regarding technology are focused on education: by educating the next generation of innovators, we can ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of invention and innovation. But, none explain how these advances will be funded and or seem to understand the impact of the digital economy on Britain.

Much like cuts in defence, which we will leave the UK, sooner than you think, no longer a superpower on the world stage, it’s unlikely that we will compete in technology, science or the digital economy. In 2012, £10.0 billion was spent on Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) by the UK Government, a 1% decrease compared with 2011, and continued the downward trend in SET expenditure since 2009.

In comparison, by pouring cash into science and technology faster than its economy has expanded, China has for the first time overtaken Europe on a key measure of innovation: the share of its economy devoted to research and development (R&D). In 2012, China invested 1.98% of its gross domestic product (GDP) into R&D — just edging out the 28 member states of the European Union (EU), which together managed 1.96% according to OECD.

Meanwhile the ranking of EU Countries by download speed (EU Average 16.80Mbps) puts the UK twelfth below Lithuania, Netherlands, Sweden, Romania and Portugal. Why? Because many of them have more advanced fibre optic networks in the ground. However, we still come ahead of Germany (13), France (18) and Spain (21) but this is likely to change in the near future as for example, France has committed 20bn Euros to build a national fibre network.

In comparison, that’s 20 times less the equivalent Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) spend, as the Government is investing just over £1 billion in improving broadband and mobile infrastructure to provide basic broadband (2Mbps) for all by 2016 and superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by 2017.

Can the UK really compete when no party appears to understand the importance of technology to the UK economy to dedicate pages rather than mere paragraphs in their manifestos with estimated budgets? The parties need to clearly lay out how they propose to develop the UK as a technological innovator and leader today and into the future.

 

Read more at: http://bit.ly/1bwgycR

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Smart homes lack consumer connection

connect home bannerDespite the hype around new tech concepts such as the ‘connected home’ and the ‘internet of things’, consumers are sceptical about the cost of the technology and the role it will play in their lives, new research suggests.

The study, seen exclusively by Marketing Week , reveals that over a quarter of respondents are not interested in having digitally connected smart appliances in their home. The survey of 2,000 UK-based adults, conducted by field marketing agency Gekko, also shows that most people are unwilling to pay more for connected devices.

Among the appliances available, the smart thermostat is the most popular with 44 per cent of people saying they would consider installing one in their home. Smart lighting comes second (40 per cent) followed by smart TV (36 per cent).
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But 27 per cent would not consider installing a connected appliance, with 45 per cent citing cost as their top concern. When asked to specify an additional amount they would be willing to spend on such an appliance, the majority select zero.

Thirty per cent of people are willing to spend an extra £100 on a smart fridge that enables users to keep track of their food stocks via a mobile device. The majority (55 per cent), however, are unwilling to pay a premium for such an appliance.

Daniel Todaro, group managing director of Gekko, believes the concept of the connected home “has moved beyond the early adopter stage and started to trickle into the mainstream”. But given that many people remain unsure about smart appliances, brands must educate the public about the benefits of the technology, he says, adding: “Once people recognise the opportunities to save money, it will become more accessible.”

Todaro suggests that as the weather turns colder in the coming months and energy bills rise again, utility brands will devote more resources to marketing smart meters that enable people to control their heating remotely. In January, for example, British Gas ran a nationwide advertising campaign to promote its smartphone-controlled central heating system Hive .

According to the research, 50 per cent of people regard the impact on their quality of life as a key reason for buying a connected appliance, compared with just 28 per cent who care about the brand behind the product. Word of mouth matters to 30 per cent of respondents while 9 per cent regard in-store advice as an important factor.

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Electronics retailers Currys and PC World are rolling out ‘smart technology areas’ across their stores to help educate consumers and enable them to interact with connected appliances. The companies are owned by parent group Dixons Carphone, which this month completed a £3.8bn merger that aims to put it at the forefront of the internet of things .

“We’re also investing in training our store colleagues on smart technology and launching online microsites for customers, which are dedicated to smart technologies such as connected home devices to help educate and inspire,” says Dave Ward, head of new technology and innovation at Currys and PC World. While the cost of installing smart appliances is relatively high, Ward claims prices are beginning to come down as the technology matures.

“We also think many of these technologies have the ability to save real money,” he adds. “Early adopters may pay a little more to be at the forefront but they will soon save money [on energy consumption] through devices such as smart thermostats and lights.”

In addition to the cost issue, 21 per cent of survey respondents express concern about how brands use personal data gathered from smart appliances. Eighteen per cent say the technology is ‘too intrusive’ while 23 per cent are concerned about the complexity of setting up the appliances.

Technology companies such as US firm Revolv have sought to simplify the connected home by creating a single hub through which all smart appliances are controlled. Revolv provides a router that receives signals from other companies’ appliances and a single app that allows users to co-ordinate all their home technology from their smartphone or tablet.

Last month the company launched an Android app to sit alongside its existing iOS offer and announced its integration with Google’s Nest thermostat. “Our brand promise is to unify off-the-shelf devices made by many manufacturers regardless of the protocol within those devices,” says Suttida Yang, director of marketing at Revolv.

With regard to the data issue the company is keen to ensure a strong value exchange with users. “We believe consumer data and privacy are owned by the consumer; there’s always a trade-off and convenience that we can provide when the consumer allows us to access that data,” says Yang. “To that end, we take privacy and security very seriously such that the communications between our app, hub and cloud are all encrypted and anonymised.”

The entrance of the world’s biggest tech companies into the smart home market is likely to reassure consumers and accelerate adoption. In June, for example, Apple unveiled HomeKit , a suite of tools for controlling home appliances. Apple is working with brands such as Honeywell, Philips and Broadcom to develop the platform.

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The $3.2bn (£1.9bn) acquisition of Nest in January demonstrates Google’s determination to be a dominant presence in the connected home too. Nest intuitively adjusts its settings according to people’s usage patterns, such as reducing the thermostat temperature setting when it senses nobody is home.

But despite excitement around these products, the role of connected devices depends also on government policy towards super-fast broadband. Last week, the UK Government said its plan to provide super-fast broadband to 95 per cent of homes and businesses by 2017 was “firmly on track” after announcing that one million homes and businesses have access already.

However, business lobbyists and commentators have criticised the Government for a lack of ambition, claiming that its definition of ‘super-fast’ lags behind many other nations. Gekko’s Todaro agrees with this assessment and believes stronger Government action is needed to support the growth of the internet of things across the UK.

“The Government is woefully behind on super-fast broadband,” he says. “Most homes in the UK don’t yet have the necessary speed of broadband to have a connected home.

“We’re way behind the Nordics, for example, and a lot of other places in Europe. It needs to become part of our psyche as a nation if we want to continue moving forward.”

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Read more at – http://www.marketingweek.co.uk/trends/trending-topics/sector-trends/smart-homes-lack-consumer-connection/4011378.article

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Did the Wearable Tech Expo deliver the goods?

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Last week saw London’s Olympia host the UK’s first ever Wearable Technology Conference and Expo, dedicated to showcasing the latest developments in smartwatches, wristbands and other wearable devices. With speakers from Microsoft, Google, Samsung and Intel, the show promised a lot, but did it live up to the hype?

The show floor at Olympia reflected an industry that is still in its infancy with a clear split between sport and leisure wearable gadgets. The most commercially successful wearable tech category so far is that of sports-focused devices, and the plethora of health and fitness-trackers on display at the show underlined the consumer demand for these products.

Wearable tech innovations are helping athletes – both amateur and professional – to improve their performances by creating data while they train, allowing the user to identify areas that require improvement and extra focus. The recent Winter Olympics highlighted these developments as we saw athletes from around the globe trying out a variety of devices in an attempt to gain an edge over the competition. Users of sport-based gadgets certainly know what they want from their devices.

On the other side of the coin, the majority of leisure-focused wearable gadgets like Google Glass and Vrase have not yet hit the open market. This category of devices needs to be refined and defined for the consumer before it penetrates the market, a point which was very evident at the show. The battle for domination in the wearable tech industry is heating up with the major announcement from Google last week about its plans to establish a bigger presence in the industry. The search giant announced Android Wear, a version of its operating system designed specifically for wearable devices. The effects of this move by Google will be felt across the sector by chip makers, electronics firms and fashion labels working on wearable gadgets this year.

All of this is taking place against a backdrop of privacy and security concerns among UK consumers. The market share remains firmly up for grabs and the next twelve months will tell an interesting tale.

In order to thrive in the wearable tech industry brands need to place more emphasis on the quality of the design of the products, with much more input from the creative and design side required. Brands will also need to explore more effective ways for users to interact with the devices. Whether this will be achieved by taking voice activation or recognition to the next level, or through an entirely different approach remains to be seen. We can expect a different state of affairs at London’s Wearable Tech Show 2015. Watch this space.

Rupert Cook is business development director at field marketing agency Gekko
Read more: http://wallblog.co.uk/2014/03/25/did-the-wearable-tech-expo-deliver-the-goods/#ixzz2wzshjKXd

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