As a keen observer of where home technology products are being presented to homeowners, I notice advertising and sales of Smart Home tech all across social media, billboards, website ads and on the High Street. Major retail outlets are now allocating valuable store real estate to technology devices for the home. It’s so simple now to pick up a smart product whilst also buying your weekly groceries or a new outfit. I had to chuckle recently when I saw a vending machine for consumer electronics and it included an Amazon Echo Dot and Philips Hue Lightbulb as selection choices. It’s never been easier to bring tech home.
I need to stop doing it but I can’t help pretending to be a prospective buyer of Smart Home devices when I’m in the department store or shop. I don’t need the item but I’m intrigued by how a store assistant is selling the Home Tech Experience. So the tale normally goes that I’m looking for some new bulbs or I’m needing some security cameras that I can view on my phone.
Recently I visited a high end Hi-Fi and TV store who had Smart Home printed on their High Street facing windows and pavement placed sandwich board. I had ten minutes to kill before a dental appointment for a browse. I explained to the assistant that I wanted some voice control of lights, link up between my music/TV, lights, heating and motorised blinds. I took into account that this was a single brand selling store but the Smart Home graphics window indicated they would be able to help me with my enquiry.
The first response I got was that their products work with “Smart Home stuff”, then I was shown a voice controlled demonstration of music being streamed through speakers via a Google Home command. It failed to work after 3 attempts and their attention turned to the televisions in the store. I questioned the voice control issue and was told “It sometimes doesn’t work.”. The television display consisted of a playback of a corporate video showing a ultra-luxurious home with an awesome interior. The homeowner in the video pressed a button on a remote control and the blinds lowered. “This is what I want” I said, “which products are used for that?”
The video ended and I said this is what I was thinking about having. The assistant couldn’t tell me the brands used, how it works and how I could get more info. I asked if my electrician could come in and enquire about the wiring needed for the setup I described. This prompted a request for email details. I left my enquiry and closed the chat with his recommendation for a local installer of Smart Home systems.......he didn’t know anyone.
I left the shop with two opposing conclusions.
- We are streets ahead at Customised when it comes to providing relevant and valued Home Technology advice when homeowners visit our offices or when we visit their homes for free surveys and consultations. We need to keep it that way by continuing to listen to homeowners and develop staff knowledge and experience.
- Many homeowners are being put off Smart Home by bad initial encounters with people selling Smart Home services and products. I worry that adoption rates are reduced because of poor sales experiences, wrong products specified and sold, misunderstanding about living in a Smart Home and lack of installation support by the seller of the product.
I’m prepared to accept my experience in this store might be an isolated case, so I invite any retailers reading this to kick my ass in the comments below and to start a debate on the support for the buyers of home technology.
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