John Lewis has launched a major assault on the smart home market with the announcement of a new department at its flagship Oxford Street store.
Speaking exclusively to Mobile, Jonathan Marsh the department store’s buying director, home and electricals, said that the retailer lost patience with the pace at which the market was developing.
‘We were waiting patiently for the industry', he said, 'and we lost patience. Currently, there is no standard code or system so what you see is everything working through separate apps. But through ‘this and that’ algorithms they’ll will be apps that can connect the different systems together.
‘Main idea of the concept was to make it simple. The smart home has done well with the early adopters but it is still far from the mass market. Customers will be able to come and see how it all works, this showcases how it looks and feels in the home.
‘When we were developing the concept it had to have flexibility at its core. The entertainment space is by far in a way the biggest of the different areas for connected products currently. We expect the kitchen to be another that will grow. There is a macro trend towards cutting out wastage.'
Marsh believes that the department store is perfectly placed to introduce consumers to the smart home concept. He told Mobile that the retailer’s status as a trusted brand would be advantageous: ‘People don’t properly understand the technology and therefore need a trusted partner and conversation to explain it in the right way. It requires a level of installation too, people trust John Lewis as a brand they will welcome into their home.
‘We also have a home design service where a designer comes round to your house and gives you a specialist service. We’re looking to have a smart home service where we can offer a similarly complete package. This is likely to come online later in the autumn.
‘My buying team see a new product in this space every day. We believe that this will be combined with the mobile phone which will be the remote control for the smart home. It connects to a great trend which will see every product with a plug become WiFi enabled.’