From the Retra conference in London
Independent retailers are ideally placed to sell the smart home, as they have a loyal customer base who will need connected products explained to them, according to Ashley Shorey-Mills, general manager of Hughes Smart Home, which has just built its first connected home show apartment at the rear of its Ipswich store in Felixstowe Road.
Speaking at the Retra conference on October 11, Mr Shorey-Mills (pictured) said: “Your loyal customers that you’ve lived off for years will eventually want a smart-home product – they will come into your shop like they always have done, but if they just see the same four walls with the same products on them, they will feel that you’re irrelevant and they will go to a large chain of stores.”
He added: “The vast majority of people know that the smart home is happening, but they don’t know what it is. If you Google ‘smart home’, it’s confusing.”
Mr Shorey-Mills said that independents should start to learn about connected products and get their staff and installation teams to spot new opportunities, including the rapidly increasing smart white goods market.
He said: “We’ve just built our first show apartment – we needed to be able to show people what we could actually create in their home. We took over one of the old meeting rooms in our store and turned it into a showroom with four rooms. It has every aspect of smart-home control for a normal home and we can invite people along and show them what we do.”
However, Mr Shorey-Mills was quick to point out that not every retailer needs to create a smart-home apartment, adding: “It’s important to start with small projects and investments, but, at the same time, developing a strong and ambitious vision for the future. You could literally go back now and start a smart-home service in your current shop and it wouldn’t be very difficult to do.
“You could then work with Cedia [Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association] and [custom installation distributor] AWE to get some very low cost training that will give you instant add-ons and success. While you’re bringing in that extra profit, you can then start to understand a little bit more about what the smart-home market is becoming.”