It’s time for connected devices

2016 saw Amazon give birth to Alexa and it was all over CES. Westcoast retail managing director Carl Oxley talks about how having a household name for the IoT to hang from will do everyone good.

After a bumper final quarter of 2016, with sales in all sectors boosted by Black Friday, Cyber week, as well as Christmas and January sales, the UK PC and tech industry enters the new year of 2017 thinking: “What now?”

Following the sales period, it is important that retailers work closely with suppliers and distributors to coordinate their in-store theatre and supply chain. 

Ensuring products are in stock in the warehouse and shop floor, and that all pricing and POS is updated is essential to maximise the sales of current products. Retailers must also plan for new developments and adapt their in-store theatre accordingly to accommodate the demands of new products.

One major development in Q4 that was also a star of CES at the start of the year is Amazon’s Alexa virtual personal assistant and Echo products. 

Having a household name that has introduced an easy-to-use product and platform, with clear benefits for the consumer presents the opportunity to transform the connected home sector and take the Internet of Things (IoT) and home automation to the next level.

In addition to the obvious AI voice assistant, the Echo products can also connect directly to a host of connected home products such as smart light bulbs, plugs and thermostats from a range of leading brands without the need for a separate hub. 

“These new IoT products have the potential to revolutionise the connected and automated home.” 
Carl Oxley, Westcoast

Hubs have always been seen as the barrier preventing the connected home taking off and products like Echo, make it more accessible for the consumer and a much easier marketplace for new companies to enter.

These new IoT products have the potential to revolutionise the connected and automated home, however the challenge for retailers is to effectively demonstrate this in store. It is straightforward to demonstrate and sell such products as standalone purchases, but how do retailers communicate to the customer that they can be the hub of a connected home with so many third party products able to connect and work in automated harmony? 

At least for large retail stores, there is the opportunity to dramatically alter the in-store layout and to dedicate significant floor space for a connected home setup where all products are linked through a new hub product. Going down this route, the key to success will be in the execution.

There is an enormous opportunity here for technology retailers in 2017. Those that showcase the true abilities and capabilities of the Internet of Things will benefit from a sales boost from accessory and peripheral products. They can finally unlock the potential of the connected home, which has been bubbling for some time.

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