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Hands-on experience key to smart home revolution

From a fridge that orders milk when you’re running low, to a thermostat that can learn your schedule by detecting when your smartphone is in the house – the smart home revolution is well under way. Some of the world’s biggest brands are tapping in to this lucrative market and attempting to outdo each other with products that can lay claim to making a consumer’s life easier.

But, are consumers ready? A recent study by Smart Home Week found that while 75% of Brits have heard of the term ‘smart home’ (an increase from 57% in 2017) and 42% have at least one smart device in their home, a significant 47% admitted they found smart tech overwhelming.

It leads us to think about where the responsibility falls to educate consumers about smart technology. The obvious choice would be the front line – the retailers tasked with selling the innovative devices coming to market – but the exodus from the high street of stores such as Comet and Maplin suggests retailers might not be delivering. As products become smarter, the culture of selling simply to shift stock is proving ineffective.

So, what does this mean for brands? We’re increasingly seeing brands move to invest more in customer experience. Above traditional marketing methods, offering consumers a hands-on experience so that they can ‘get to know’ a product and understand its benefits, is proving a differentiator. More than ever, consumers are looking for guidance to inform their purchasing decisions and it’s a brand’s duty to provide this.

It goes without saying that smart products bring a home to life, and brands, too, must bring their products to life to ensure customer engagement. A vital way of doing this is by ensuring brand representatives are trained effectively so that their knowledge and enthusiasm for products can translate to better consumer understanding.

One brand that has taken a lead in this regard is global supplier of technology and services, Bosch. Training retailers through live demonstrations is a vital part of its strategy, particularly when it has new products to launch. Recently, the team has utilised a mobile training academy to increase the sales of home appliances across the UK.

Smart Technology Roadshow

Bosch has also invested significantly in customer experience. Its ‘Smart Living’ tour has been designed to provide consumers with a multi-sensory, interactive experience that looks and feels like a home and garden. A key part of this is presenting consumers with the complete smart solution – recognising that the real benefits of these products cannot be understood in isolation.

Taking its smart home products directly to over 50,000 consumers at exhibitions and shows, feedback proved its worth with 95% of visitors saying they were more likely to purchase a Bosch product following their experience.

As the number of smart products on the market increases, the demand on retailers does too, but it is the brands themselves that can have the greatest impact on consumer understanding and engagement.

Whether it’s providing live demonstrations, training retailers, or presenting products in-situ; the key thing is bringing smart products to consumers in a way that informs and excites them. As more brands invest in this area, there is no doubt that the number of consumers feeling overwhelmed will decrease. And, with consumers understanding the benefits of smart tech, the reality of huge numbers of fully connected smart homes might just come to fruition.

If you want to read more from Keith Austin on the smart home revolution, take a look at this article on Retail Sector online.

Keith Austin

Keith Austin View Full Profile

Clarity of vision and years of big brand experience have helped Keith take EMS from start-up to market leader. The continual challenges he places on both the business and the team are keeping us in pole position, where we intend to stay.

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