Over a third of indies reject the smart home

More than a third (38 per cent) of independent electrical retailers don’t think the smart home is right for their customers, according to a recent online ERT Turning Point survey carried out by field marketing agency Gekko.

Just under a third of dealers – 29 per cent – said that a lack of space in their showroom was stopping them from embracing the smart home, while 26 per cent said they didn’t know where to start and 10 per cent said that they didn’t think the smart home had any commercial potential. Almost a quarter (24 per cent) said they didn’t have the technical knowledge to start selling the smart home.

More encouragingly, 37 per cent of independents said they actively intended to change their business in the next two years to embrace the smart-home phenomenon.

According to the survey, custom install was the most significant additional revenue stream for retailers – 38 per cent – while rentals accounted for 15 per cent and fitted kitchens for 13 per cent.

Commenting on the survey results, Daniel Todaro, managing director of Gekko, said: “Each dealer will be the best judge of who their customers are and the kind of products they are after. However, the number of smart-enabled products is only set to increase in the coming years, so it’s worth being in a position to offer expert advice and solutions to your customer base. This is where independent retailers can really excel and differentiate themselves from online retailers.

“While the market for a smart-enabled fridge at £6,500 may be limited, there are plenty of smart-home devices and solutions that offer real, everyday benefits at an attainable price point.”

He added: “Don’t see the smart home as a distraction for your existing customers – see it as an opportunity to up-sell existing ones to a top-of-the-range product, and as an opportunity to attract new customers. If your store is the expert in the category, early adopters will come to you for advice.”

Paul Hide, director of markets and membership at consumer electronics trade association techUK, said that the fact that 38 per cent of independents didn’t think the smart-home was relevant was “worrying”.

He told ERT: “It suggests that either a large part of the independent retail channel isn’t aware of the future opportunities that smart-home technologies will create, or that they are failing to grasp how to position this technology to their customers.

“The pace of overall change and the emergence of new technologies and market segments will not slow down to wait for those who are unable to adapt. I would worry for the future survival of retailers who adopt this mentality.”

  • ŸFor more on smart-home opportunities and ERT’s Turning Point campaign, see the September issue of the magazine