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Smart Home Hubs: Will They Control Retail?

By Allison Halliday | February 27, 2017

Amidst the growing interest in smart home hubs and in smart technology, an article in poses an interesting theory. Currently, retailers and consumers are most interested in how Internet of things devices, particularly wearables, will help to drive the customer experience.

The article points out that this ignores looking at how the Internet of things ecosystem will gradually evolve. Smart home technology that includes door locks, curtains, refrigerators, and lights are all increasingly becoming connected to smart home hubs that will manage these devices. Much of the convenience of having a smart home ties in nicely with retail. For example, a smart lamp may be able to warn when the lightbulb is about to expire, a fitness tracker can make meal recommendations while a smart fridge will let you know when you are about to run out of staples such as milk. These all help you to plan what you need to buy and at the moment there are just three main companies producing smart home hubs that are able to communicate with these smart devices and these are Amazon, Google and of course Apple. However, if you use Amazon’s Alexa, it’s pretty obvious where Alexa will choose to order any replacement items.

With Google Home, the system recently with became connected with Google Express which is a little like Amazon Prime, offering a subscription service for users that offers fast deliveries from a number of different retailers. There is a minimum spend with each retailer and some assortments may be excluded. A least with Google, consumers get the choice of ordering from retailers other than Amazon. Although with Amazon, you can now place Starbucks and Pizza Hut and Domino’s orders if Alexa is connected to these apps. Alexa can also be used to order an Uber, but its services are relatively limited.

According to the article, retailers should be concerned as consumers using Alexa could be pushed towards using a retailer determined by their smart home configuration and settings, instead of retailers having to compete for business. Siri isn’t yet quite as advanced, but with the increasing acceptance of Apple Pay, that may be set to change.

Allison Halliday is a Realty Biz News contributing writer. She handles International Real Estate and is a seasoned blogger.
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