Are you Team Google or Team Amazon?
New research out last week found these two companies heavily competing in the smart home speaker race. As Canalys reports, Google beat Amazon for the first time in terms of the number of units shipped, reaching 3.2 million Google Home and Google Home Mini units shipped compared with Amazon's 2.5 million Echo smart speakers shipped. But not everyone agrees with those numbers. Strategy Analytics reported that Amazon had shipped 4 million Echo units during the first quarter of 2018 compared to Google's 2.4 million units.
Even if both firms disagree on who exactly is winning the smart speaker race, they do agree on one major point: At least nine million smart home speakers shipped globally to consumers during the first quarter of 2018. That's huge.
As more and more consumers invite Google Assistant, Alexa and Siri into their homes, lighting and home furnishings showrooms need to get on board. If you don't already have a smart speaker in your showroom, here's why you should be ordering one now.
The power of demonstration
If you ever found yourself wide awake at 3 a.m. in the 1990s and 2000s, then there's a good chance you watched an OxiClean infomercial starring Billy Mays. Known for his "yell n sell," Mays grabbed attention with his loud voice and wild hand gestures, but what really made people stop and watch was the OxiClean demonstrations. Just add a little OxiClean and now those curtains, t-shirts, whatever looked like new again. Amazing!
Now you don't need to yell like Mays (who died in 2009), but you can use the power of demonstration to your advantage. By setting up a smart speaker in your showroom, you can easily demonstrate your lighting products' capabilities and position yourself as an expert on all things smart home.
Many homeowners have yet to fully tap into their smart speakers' powers. They know their speakers can play music, answer questions and tell them jokes, but we in the industry know these speakers can do so much more.
That's where the demonstration comes into play. By showing consumers how to set up and use a smart speaker with lighting, you can clarify questions for consumers wondering how to get more from their smart speakers and inform customers who have a smart speaker, but don't quite know how to use it effectively. Your customers will also feel more confident in their lighting purchase, knowing right away that what they're buying will work with their smart home speaker.
Be a smart home expert
As we've reported this year, most industry experts believe 2018 to be the year of the smart home, the year the majority of consumers bring smart home technology into their homes. From Canalys and Strategy Analytics' numbers, that outlook still seems likely, so lighting and home furnishings showrooms need to be on this trend. Big-box stores like Lowe's have already created spaces specifically to sell smart home products, and though your showroom may not be able to sell Google Homes or Echos, you can still compete in the field by being an expert.
One of the biggest problems facing the smart home industry at the moment is keeping it simple. essentially how to make things work together without too much hassle. That's where your showroom comes in. By creating your own simple, smart lighting solution in your showroom, you can help your consumers do the same at home and become their go-to source for smart technology.
This is a great way to build a lasting relationship with your customers and ensure that they'll be back for all their smart home needs. You may not be able to sell the products yourself, but as your expertise becomes more valuable, you might create a smart home service and charge consumers who need help setting up their systems.
Of course, you need to become an expert first before you can charge for your experience, so that should be your first goal. In your showroom, start small, do your research and come up with an easy lighting smart home solution that homeowners of any skill level could set up. Come up with your product recommendations and learn which products are compatible with each other.
Once you know what works, set up your lighting system in your showroom. Some showrooms, like Lights Fantastic in Dallas, have sections of the store dedicated to LED and smart technology, but all you really need is a small corner, a few fixtures and a smart lighting plan. Teach each sales associate how it all works so they can explain it to their customers.
With so many retail options available to consumers, it's up to you to make your showroom into a destination. Becoming a smart home expert is just one great way to get ahead of the curve.
How are you turning your showroom into a must-see retail destination? Share with us in the comments!