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There was a lot said about the Internet of Things (IoT) throughout 2015 as the term has been used by many tech enthusiasts and is now beginning to feature in many industries. We are now beginning to see a real and measurable change in the way organisations and industries are functioning and see how businesses are being effected by the IoT.
According to a recent study 54% of retailers worldwide who experienced an above-average sales growth said they believed the IoT is poised to dramatically change the way companies do business in the next three years.
This week John Lewis launched the UK’s largest smart home technology experience at their flagship store in Oxford Street. The reason behind this? The retailer announced that they have witnessed a 81% increase of sales for their smart home products year-on-year from 2014 to 2015.
The 1,000 square foot space is designed like a real-home and has four interactive zones: ‘Kitchen’, ‘Entertainment’, ‘Sleep’ and ‘Home monitoring’. Gadgets in the space include an oven that can start cooking dinner before you leave the office to a smart fridge that can inform you when you are running low on milk.
The latter product is a feature similar to that of the Samsung Family Hub Smart Fridge demonstrated at this years Consumer Electronics Show. Their latest fridge which features a 21.5" high definition touchscreen will have the capability to check its temperature, humidity and operation mode by looking at the food inside via a camera. Other products include a Nest smoke and carbon monoxide alarm and a Netatmo welcome home camera with face recognition.
“We are seeking to demystify the latest smartest technology for our customers…In-store experiences are now key as we’ve seen a consumer demand for physical experiences before committing to purchase increase. To help customers understand which smart technology is for them, our partners have received extensive training to provide added value.”
Jonathan Marsh | Retail co-operative's electrical and home technology buying director
Though John Lewis are not the first retailer to make such announcements. In the last twelve months we have seen the likes of Samsung, Dixons and Ikea launch products and in-store customer experiences in a race to become early adopters within the industry. Ikea, the Swedish furniture giant has already revealed it is developing smart products such as furniture that can wirelessly charge mobile phones.
The pressure to constantly stay ahead of other retailers by driving sales and encouraging repeat business is a key driver in this highly competitive industry, a problem that the likes of BHS and M&S (clothing department) have struggled with in recent time. A study from August 2015 demonstrated that global decision markers within the retail sector were most familiar with the IoT in contrast to other sectors. So it comes as no surprise that the products featured in the John Lewis space will be available for purchase and the in-store smart home experiences are due to be rolled out across all stores starting with Leeds in Autumn 2016.
The digital transformation within the retail industry is competitive and the early adopters are pushing to provide us the consumers with the best products, information and experience in order to win over our custom. Delivering smart products and smart experiences is vital for the future of retail, otherwise organisations risk falling short and suffering the consequences of a reactive business model, including the likes of one of the nations oldest retailers BHS.