Will you be smart enough this Christmas?

Smart home devices seem to be dominating the conversation within the electrical sector in the lead up to Christmas. The CEO of Maplin, Oliver Meakin, has predicted that smart hubs will be 2017’s must have gift. From smart thermostats to smart locks and home security systems, the range of products is continuously expanding.

Recent research from tech retailer Maplin revealed that just under one quarter of UK homes now own a smart home device, with smart hubs, such as Google Assistant and Amazon’s Echo Dot, being the most desirable products. It appears success with the early adopters has resulted in continued growth in the market.

With greater efficiency and technology available, different product sectors can latch onto the idea of being ‘smart’ and interconnected, offering their customers greater ease in completing simple day to day tasks. The rise in smart home products provided by retail giants such as Amazon and Google have catapulted these devices towards a wider audience. As these products are constantly developed, the boundaries between industries are becoming increasingly blurred; the collaboration of both Ford and Uber with Amazon’s Echo Dot are just two examples. The data that these devices can also create can be indispensable for firms enabling them to get a much richer understanding of how consumers behave. 

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Changing customer behaviour

However, the entrance of these new types of products into the market has the potential to fundamentally change the nature of competition and has huge implications for traditional marketing. Amazon’s Echo dot and its voice activated assistant Alexa is the prime example of this.

Alexa allows customers to purchase products via a simple voice command. Offering a new alternative path to purchase to both in store and online shopping, this poses a new type of threat to Amazon’s competitors and provides the scope to turn online shopping into an even more isolated and spontaneous event by tapping into consumers need for instant gratification.

If consumers are looking for new products they haven’t purchased before, Alexa Voice Shopping will return results from Amazon's Choice line of products. This begs the question; how do competitors offer their advertising or promotional offers to consumers, if when they’re a purchasing a product through Alexa, they are unable to see them? This creates a new problem for certain brands who don’t feature on Amazon’s product list. Ocado has swiftly responded to this threat and is the first UK supermarket to launch an app for Alexa, enabling users to add items to their Ocado shopping basket through voice commands.

Smart technology and the convenience it brings has the potential to shut brands out of certain purchase journeys. In a sense it’s created a completely new path to purchase; one that is not on a screen or in a physical environment.

As ownership of smart products is on the rise, firms that believe smart technology has the potential to enhance their business model in 2018 and beyond, need to stay in the game and not get left behind.

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