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Getting Smart About Smart Home

OK, so we’ve established that the connected home is here and ready to produce big dividends for consumers and dealers in convenience, time savings and sales. But how best to convey that message to both constituencies? We asked the nation’s leading distributors for their advice on giving advice to customers and end users.

Trevor May, executive director, vendor management, D&H Distributing:
We’re arming our customers in the retail marketplace with a variety of sales approaches, including both stand-alone solutions and more turnkey solutions-based selling strategies.

Also, our October Mid-Atlantic Show featured a Connected Home and Digital Office exhibit. And in addition, we’re offering a smart-home workshop here at our corporate office this fall to provide handson and voice-enabled product demos. These are terrific ways to introduce new vendors to our customers, illustrating the emerging possibilities of the category.

Curt Hayes, president/chief financial officer, Capitol:
We advise our customers to introduce the concept by way of consumer-friendly products such as the Works With Nest collection and others that are easily understood. They are the best tools for getting consumers hooked on the benefits of the connected home.

Warren Chaiken, president/CEO, Almo:
We advise our dealers to be knowledgeable and include smart appliances in their mix as they will become increasingly popular.

See: Is It Soup Yet? Distributors Say Smart Home Is Just About Ready

Seth Evenson, director, customer experience management, AVAD:
We advise dealers and consumers alike, recommending that they select a home automation solution that will create an efficient, centralized control system.

Tate Morgan, president, Petra:
Petra believes in educating our customers on emerging technologies and brands to create a better buying experience all the way to the end customer.

Dennis Holzer, executive director, PowerHouse Alliance:
Dealers can advise their customers on how to approach home technology first by having them evaluate their current home, and then deciding which functions they’d like automated or monitored. PowerHouse members also encourage dealers to ask their customers about features that they may want to add in the future as well.

Our dealers start this conversation by explaining many of the smart-home possibilities available, to ensure they can see the big picture when determining their immediate needs. Knowing what the customer’s short- and long-term smart-home goals are will help the integrator understand the requirements for the wireless network over time, and what systems to use so that it can be expanded upon later.

Colin Blair, big data and analytics VP, the Internet of Things, Tech Data:
Tech Data advises our customers to understand the benefits of platforms and automation, as they ultimately allow disparate devices to work in an interoperable fashion. Most automation today is being driven by time schedule and/or geographic location.

True automation is the panacea for smart homes, but it requires data, models and location sharing. While security remains a concern, affordability of smart devices will trump those concerns – especially with consumers under 30.

Alexandra Harding, director, vendor management, consumer technology solutions, Ingram Micro:
At Ingram Micro, we are focused on selling the solution and not just the individual items. We’re also highlighting the value to end-users in the business world, challenging our resellers to see the opportunities with SMB [small to medium businesses], construction, retail and more.

It is also important for our partners and their customers to understand that many different brands work across multiple platforms, and we are working to help them communicate their value in optimizing those solutions.