With John Lewis betting big on the internet of things, one big challenge is getting customers aware of what it is and why it's good for them. Watch The Drum's video going behind the scenes at the retailer's new installation promising to do just that.
John Lewis has unveiled an immersive installation in its flagship story which will be dedicated to smart home technology, aiming to showcase its dedication to the connected future to customers.
Opened earlier this month, the smart home experience covers 1,000 square feet of its London Oxford Street branch. The space has been designed to show how connected devices can enhance kitchens, living rooms and even bedrooms, and shoppers are encouraged to test out the interactive kit on display.
The retailer’s innovation manager, John Vary, told The Drum the activation had been in the pipeline for around 18 months, after stats confirmed the growing popularity of smart home tech: according to John Lewis, sales of products in that category increased 81 per cent between 2014 and 2015.
“The real reason we created this space was to help demystify the smart home proposition for the customers,” said Vary. “Smart home tech at times is quite complex and we wanted to really create theatrical moments in store that could take customers through what the it could do in their home, and really contextualise what these products mean within a house.”
While electronics makes up a substantial part of John Lewis’ revenue, it is, of course, not all it sells. And Vary believes it is also not the only sector open to the potential of the internet of things.
"The smart home is really one element of the internet of things,” he said. "If you look at fashion you’ve got Project Jacquard from Google, which is another way of imbedding tech into another industry.
“The internet of things is so powerful - it’s going to keep on growing an growing - but it will always be [for us about] how we can demystify and contextualise what that can do for us as human beings.”
For now at least, it looks as if the vast majority of John Lewis' investment in the internet of things will be focused on the home department. Last September saw the brand's start up incubator JLab invest in Peeple - the manufacturer of a smart camera security device for peepholes.
The retailer is also currently in the process of planning a wider roll-out of the smart home in-store concept, with the second installation planned for the new John Lewis Leeds store opening this Autumn.
Vary added: “This gives us an opportunity to really show our innovative capabilities in a really creative and future thinking way."