The bridge to digital is here, and retailers who aren’t on it will get left behind. Voice control, streaming content and app-based products have all become table stakes. And as we plan for the remainder of 2019, it’s more about tapping into this ecosystem than identifying a single product or accessory that will be hot in the eyes of the consumer.
Retailers should be focused on app-based products that connect to smartphones, PCs and tablets. Consider apps that control robotic vacuum cleaners or smart lighting in the home. It’s become all about how products and apps interface with each other and contribute to the overall technology experience. And users expect to have everything at their fingertips as they deploy products in a true plug-and-play fashion.
Voice control is at the center of our digital world, and continues to permeate all aspects of life. What started on the PC has extended all the way to our cars, and consumers are using the power of their voice to control activities throughout their day. The sky is the limit with voice control – consider the breadth of products, various price points, and options for customization. And after installing a simple product like a smart thermostat, controlling security cameras, door locks and lighting becomes easy.
Meet one of the market’s most immersive PC-based headsets built for consumers and enterprises seeking a virtual reality experience. The HTC VIVE PRO Starter Kit provides users with unprecedented hi-res visuals, spatial audio, and a new form-factor for improved ergonomics and comfort.
Many of these products are morphing beyond their traditional definitions. Smart light bulbs, for instance, are becoming more popular than regular lightbulbs, and smart door locks more popular than traditional locks. Some companies are even rewarding consumers for using smart home devices that help the environment through energy savings, making this category even more appealing.
Electronic transportation is another core part of the new digital world we live in, as rent-and-drop scooters continue to gain popularity. In major markets, consumers are using these devices for what’s known as “the last mile” while their Tesla is charging, or after they’ve taken an Uber. And while there are still regulations to work through and uncertainty around accessibility and ease of use, this category continues to see growth. Accessories such as helmets and reflectors to make users visible also present opportunity.
Gaming and VR/AR Opportunities
In gaming, mainstay brands are addressing the bridge to digital with consoles built to support streaming content and electronic software downloads. Gaming PCs are in high demand, and the customization of these devices is making the gaming experience highly personalized. Hot new keyboards, VR headsets, and gaming chairs are creating truly immersive experiences and opening up new worlds for gamers.
The Ninebot by Segway KickScooter Series ES2 delivers a smart, comfortable way to travel. Users can take the ES2 to speed up to 25 km/h and utilize cruise control. A sleek design, and colorful ambient lights make riders stand out along the way.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (VR and AR), whether used in a gaming environment or not, are allowing people to immerse themselves in digital worlds and new situations from wherever they are. This is yet another example of the instant gratification consumers demand today – whether they’re using a product or buying it.
Drones are another category that we all envisioned as part of this digital world that’s become reality. And while they haven’t taken off as some predicted due to regulations and privacy concerns, drones should still be part of any retail strategy. Drones that connect to other devices and come complete with gimbal cameras are the ones to watch. These devices are smaller, lighter and more affordable, with commercial applications on the rise.
Overall, privacy continues to be a concern across most product categories, which is always the case with new technology. To address concerns, all kinds of steps are being taken daily to maintain privacy at the individual user level. Manufacturers are constantly building in ways to check whether users are authorized, and adding in data controls through facial recognition and fingerprinting.
With power that goes the distance, gamers can play their best from anywhere without sacrificing performance. The HP OMEN 15 laptop keeps gamers moving and improving with desktop-class graphics performance, immersion and upgradability.
As we look ahead to the rest of 2019, the one thing retailers should be most concerned with is delivering great experiences. They need to be able to drop-shop products quickly and provide endless options in terms of colors, drive capacity, configurations and more. Building awareness of the digital world and how consumers can buy into it is also key. Great displays, shippers and unique bundles are all part of telling the story, and it’s critical to keep consumers in the store through education and real-life examples. Unique, eye-catching offerings and engaging customer service should be at the core of all retail strategies, especially in the age of showrooming.
There will continue to be uncertainty around 5G and the needed infrastructure to deploy it. But regardless of how long it takes for 5G to be deployed and adopted among the masses, retailers can’t sit and wait. One thing for certain is that the bridge to digital is here, and it has staying power. And if you’re not on board, you’re no longer just leaving money on the table – you’re at risk of missing out altogether.