What can retailers do to help grow the connected home market?

Dixons, John Lewis, B&Q and Euronics take part in a panel session
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One of the retail panel discussions at today's Smart Home Summit, titled 'What do customers want from the smart home?', threw up some interesting points.

Smart home hubs, lights you can control from an app and smart thermostats are still relatively new, and the panel said more can be done to grow the sector.

B&Q's lead buyer for connected homes, Matthew James, said: “The awareness around connected home products is frighteningly low at the moment. We did a survey and it found that people still don't understand they can control their heating from their phone. But when people hear about it, they are interested in it. Education is critical.”

Joey Tang, business unit manager at Euronics, concurred: “72 per cent of customers don't know what the smart home is about. But after you explain what you can do with it, three quarters of customers became interested and showed an intention to buy.” 

When asked by Context's Adam Simon what can be done to improve the consumer opinion on smart home products (half haven't heard of the smart home), Tang invited manufacturers to assist with retail staff training, as did others on the panel including Dave Ward, head of new technology and innovation at Dixons Carphone.

“It's about enabling people to see,” added John Lewis' IT director Paul Coby. “We're not quite there yet in terms of consumer adoption. The providers have a big role to helping us all in explaining what connected devices can do.”

Coby added that John Lewis has a new two-floor home experience on Oxford Street, using technology such as Augmented Reality and smart home products to show customers what's on offer. 

Dixons' Ward also said that there is a growing demand for smart home products being installed in people's homes, with customers wanting support with their products.

The panel also agreed that interoperability between smart home products is key.

Elsewhere at the Smart Home Summit, Deutsche Telekom told PCR that the industry must come together to prevent Amazon, Apple, Google and Samsung from having a monopoly in the smart home sector.

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