“We prefer to stay outdoors.” Some cultural norms will never change, and locking up a Spaniard in his own high-tech smart home, the new digital castle for an Englishman, is not intrinsically attractive. “You have to understand that we like to go out, socialise, see our friends, and do not invest so much in our homes as you do in the UK.”
So is there a future for smart home in Spain?
On 17th May at the AECOC Congress, the flagship event for the TCG industry in Spain, we took the chance to be like Don Quixote when he “dreamed the impossible dream”, conceiving new unimagined projects in smart home. José Campaña, head of electrical buying at El Corte Ingles, expressed the same sentiment when he said (my underlining):">http://www.aecoc.es/">AECOC Congress, the flagship event for the TCG industry in Spain, we took the chance to be like Don Quixote when he “dreamed the impossible dream”, conceiving new unimagined projects in smart home. José Campaña, head of electrical buying at El Corte Ingles, expressed the same sentiment when he said (my underlining):
“Sustainable growth is based on innovation: creativity in the way we present the product, launch messages and communicate with the client. We know what we have done, now we have to imagine what we have not done yet.”
There is certainly an appetite for innovation and a recognition that the customer landscape is changing fast in Spain, and that retailers have to adapt.
People say that the UK is far ahead in smart home, but the advance has only happened recently as a result of the introduction of smart speakers – the CONTEXT numbers show the phenomenal rise of unit sales and revenues since the Amazon Echo was introduced in the UK in September 2016 and the Google Home in November 2017.
US and UK consumers have voted for smart home speakers in the way that Javier Creus, another of the Congress speakers, founder of Ideas for Change, articulated so well:
“The Idea is here to stay – with innovation there is no turning back. The rules of the game have been changed, I want it and I want it now!”
Google have said that the smart speaker will be launched in Spain and 5 other Spanish speaking countries in 2018. This is one way in which they can regain the ground they have lost in the battle with Amazon who have not yet given a date for their Spanish version of Alexa, the software.
Now is the time to plan for the development of the ecosystem to be ready for the upcoming launch – the smart speaker links into products which deliver simple solutions such as remote control of your heating/air conditioning by a connected thermostat; or cool lighting; or security through a camera. We are nowhere near home automation for the masses – this is still a few years away. In turn this stimulates demand for ancillary products such as better Wi-Fi – sales of Wi-Fi mesh products are increasing fast, though they are still small compared to the classic extenders. Repeat purchases are high for people who have experienced the simplicity of a connected thermostat. For a retailer it is vital to hold an extensive range of smart home products or else consumers look to those sites which hold a long tail of products, often the ecommerce sites, and then a customer is lost.
As Alvaro Uriarte, General Manager for personal health at Philips put it when discussing how to build customer loyalty. “Think beyond a specific transaction, think about the life of the client. A good shopping and after-sales experience. Everyone likes to be treated well.” This is certainly true of building a smart home business.
Lastly, retailers have to think of ways in which they can attract people into the store – the high added value of the shopping experience is always going to be a vital element of minimising loss to pure ecommerce. John Lewis has just opened a beautiful smart home space in the Westfield Centre, in collaboration with Apple. Tech manufacturers are focusing on premium products to do this, as Eduardo Rodríguez, head of IT & Mobile Division in Samsung España, explained: “the premium allows us to take the consumer out of his house and put it in our stores.” In the future, as we dream the impossible dream, the smart home may take the consumer out of his house and put him in the store. Certainly events like the AECOC Congress help people to realise the possibilities of these new technologies.
© CONTEXT 2022