Over the past decade, IoT advancements have enabled mega tech platforms (i.e. Google, Amazon, Apple, etc.) and other industry leaders (i.e. Zigbee, Z-Wave, etc.) to radically transform the “connected home” as we now know it — challenging companies in the smart technology space to re-evaluate their products’ capabilities and the coinciding relationships each has with its respective users.
The transition from single-use, battery-powered mechanical devices to more sophisticated ones with built-in WiFi “connectivity” components, like voice assistant and remote access features, has granted consumer electronics retailers and their partners alike the ability to create and/or distribute products that act as an extension of consumers’ everyday routines — offering a sense of control and peace of mind that was previously unimaginable.
That said, here are six considerations that retailers should make to maintain customer loyalty and drive consumer adoption of their products as the landscape evolves.
Trust And Security
These days, reliability is not only essential when it comes to fostering consumer confidence in a smart product, but also in the brand behind it. If a consumer repeatedly engages with a vulnerable product — one with faulty or unreliable systems — they absolutely will disregard whether they think the product is “cool” or “smart,” making it that much harder for a brand to regain his/her trust down the road. However, brands like Schlage, which strive to provide products that are first and foremost security focused, ensure their products are thoroughly tested before being brought to market. Once these products are available, Schlage then has comprehensive warranties and customer service solutions in place to renew or foster trust with former, current and/or future consumers. Taking strides like these to create products that are centered around the consumers’ needs can only benefit smart tech brands in the long run, which will aid in bringing their brand top of mind when a consumer is considering a smart tech purchase — especially one that offers security measures to protect their home.
The “connected home” was initially created to serve the needs of motorization and targeted the homes of the one percent — capitalizing on selling the “cool factor” rather than catering to a specific function or use case to fill a void or better a process in a consumer’s life. Now, however, with extensive IoT advancements, brands can increasingly address a wider range of consumer needs, across a spectrum of price points. That said, rather than going after the “cool factor,” brands should focus on adding elements to their products that provide value to people’s lives on an ongoing basis, as consumers invest in, and therefore entrust, their technology. Gone are the days of simply having an iPod; now your Apple products, and others, can be integrated to support an entire home!
Moving Into Connected Solutions Vs. Smart Devices
When people initially wanted smart homes, the products they sought after typically required third-party integrators to accommodate for specific changes (changes these products were not natively built to handle), which required days on end of programming and constant maintenance even once they were set up. These ongoing inconsistencies continued to irritate the consumer, deterring them from buying into the notion of a “smart” home. This irritation from the consumer encouraged brands and retailers to consider factors like convenience and ease of setup as they refined their offerings, to meet the consumer’s needs and desires to make their lives more connected through the various products he/she already uses on a day-to-day basis.
Brands continuously saw consumers wanting different products that would support — and simplify — different facets of their lives. However, consumers time and time again struggled to successfully operate their so-called “smart” thermostats or specialty programmed locks — even after the retailers tried adding app compatibility messaging to resolve setup and management confusion — and consumers’ frustration grew with the lack of consistency in experience using these devices. Therefore, by prioritizing both user experience and quality of products, smart tech brands can more readily build and maintain their customer’s trust on an ongoing basis.
Purpose Built Products
Brands are bringing personalization to a whole new level. As such, we’re entering a realm where products are empathetic — they understand situations, know your voice and can respond in real time to requests and questions. Products are now built intentionally to integrate with other like-minded devices so that they can easily be adopted into a consumer’s routine or operate on their own. For example, a smart watch was created in tandem with a smartphone. This gave consumers the ability to monitor their activity from a product they already have a relationship with and inherently rely on for various other factors that pertain to their routines, like texting. Retailers are capitalizing on this intentional design to demonstrate the value proposition of broader, more holistic solutions with in-store experiences that aid in consumer decision making and drive adoption.
Affordability Based Off Use Case
As smart tech products have expanded accessibility to consumers around the world, brands are partnering on a more frequent basis with other brands to maximize user experience across the board, to target consumers from various price points and interests based on the smart products they already use regularly. Therefore, it is essential that smart tech brands create products that can connect with other systems or operate independently, offering consumers an entire spectrum of products to choose from rather than a select few. Now, brands can meet the consumer where they are at in terms of that person’s smart product reliance and/or experience, and in turn, they can also increase the likelihood of driving consumer loyalty and/or product adoption across the board.
Lee Odess is Vice President, Service Provider Business - Americas at Allegion, PLC, maker of Schlage Locks. For over 18 years, Odess has established a proven track record of exceeding growth expectations and overall effectiveness for product development and innovation within the consumer and commercial technology space. Prior to joining Allegion, Odess was Chief Operating Officer at UniKey Technologies. He is also former Vice President of Marketing and Enterprise Sales for Brivo Systems and Brivo Labs, which was sold in 2015 for $50mm. Odess previously established several startups in the Washington, D.C. metro market, most notably energy + light + control llc, a custom electronics design, installation and integration firm.