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Smart Home Shopping in London’s High Street

by William Ablondi | Nov 03, 2015

Retailers are beginning to move into the Smart Home market in many countries and the UK is no exception. A year or two ago I didn’t hear retailers in Europe excited about the Smart Home market… that’s changing and that’s good for market development. People need to see, touch and experience the technology in order to understand the benefits it holds for them. Nina Bhatia of British Gas underscored the importance of retail even though they have 10,000 engineers pushing Hive daily. Others mentioned its importance and I was privileged to lead a discussion on retailers’ perspectives with representatives from Dixons Carphone, Euronics, John Lewis and B&Q. See a video of the session here.

When preparing for the retail panel discussion, I learned of John Lewis’ continued push into the smart home category from their representative on the panel, Paul Coby. They recently opened a new space in their Oxford Street store dedicated to Smart Home products. And, as I mentioned in the write-up of the event (See Smart Home Summit Showcases Heightened Activity in Europe) John Lewis is actually investing in start-ups in the Smart Home market. Then, during the Summit, I learned about Harrods’ new experience center in their technology area designed and managed by Dixons Carphone called Live Smart which opened the same week as the conference. So, with this information as encouragement, I headed off to “High Street” to see for myself what a Smart Home shopper in London would encounter.

I went to the John Lewis store near Oxford Circus in which the flagship display was said to be located. The person I was to meet was busy in a meeting, so I just had a look around asking members of the staff about the display. I was directed to several places: one, the furniture department where I could visualize fabrics on chairs… Nope, not what I was looking for. Then, I was directed to the technology department where I found displays of Hive, Nest, WeMo, Withings and others. See pictures below:

John Lewis Hive & WEMO

John Lewis_Withings

 The John Lewis staffers were as helpful as they could be and really tried to direct me to the correct place which I learned later was in the lighting section. Of course, the application which kicked off the Smart Home started a few decades ago. The category is still new so retailers must continue to invest in training their staff to be familiar with the products and where they are located.

Next stop, Harrods. I had more luck there in finding the Live Smart display. It was well done with sales agents who took me through some of the various products on display… pretty much the same ones as in John Lewis. See the pictures below:

Harrod's Display 

Harrod's Live Smart

The Bottom Line is that prominent retailers in London are jumping in to the Smart Home market which will elevate awareness of the capabilities and benefits offered by Smart Home solutions... and Drive Adoption!

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