CES 2015 Day Two: A Kiwi in Vegas...

VMob Business Strategy Director Christopher Dawson offers his thoughts on the Consumer Electronics Show - live from Las Vegas...

This morning at CES for me was all about how marketers can use connected devices to improve customer experience and increase sales. One of the busiest stands when I arrived was Lowes.

They are a large home improvement retailer here in the US and they had actually constructed an entire home complete with double garage and garden patio.

I took a tour of the house while they demonstrated their smartphone home automation product Iris. It was pretty lacklustre.

With all the power of Internet connectivity they had worked out how to do things like turn off the iron from work and send alerts to a mobile phone if the booze cabinet was opened.

Iris has actually been in market for a couple of years and Lowes have been building out the ecosystem and encouraging manufacturers to get more things running on it.

They’re hoping that if people adopt Iris to automate their homes then they will buy more things that are compatible with Iris, like blinds and light bulbs and naturally these will be purchased from Lowes, which will increase sales.

The key to success here is adoption and in my opinion the system is not clever enough to make me want to install it in the first place. Controlling my blinds with a smartphone offers me no discernable benefit.

Connected devices can deliver much smarter solutions than that and I came across one just around the corner. I like talking to early stage companies because you can get one-on-one time with founders who are passionate about the products they’re displaying.

While I was still in the home improvement section of the Sands exhibition hall I met Steve Fernholz, founder and CEO of Droplet.

He has developed a garden sprinkler for people that want a flourishing garden without paying for a big and expensive irrigation system. Because it is a connected device this sprinkler can be programmed to target particular areas of your garden with more water than others.

It knows the exact amount to dispense based on plant data as well as weather and soil data associated with your postcode. It is a single sprinkler that helps your plants to flourish by personalising itself to your garden.

Now thinking from a marketer’s perspective I thought that was really interesting. Data from that kind of device could be really useful for driving sales of plant food, plants and other associated garden supplies.

Neil Cowie the CEO of Mitre 10 recently revealed that gardening is Mitre 10’s single biggest category.

That makes me wonder whether the marketing departments of garden centres or home improvement stores would be interested in partnering with a company like Droplet.

Not only sell the devices but leverage the data from the devices to increase sales. Opted in customers could receive targeted content suggesting relevant garden supplies at a relevant time.

In return Aucklander’s with a garden could save money on their water bills and receive help improving the quality of their garden, which is just the sort of customer value that drives adoption and could give brands like Mitre 10 or Bunnings a competitive advantage in certain categories.

Even a small increase in the percentage of garden supplies could generate a very strong ROI which is how smart marketers can get great business results from smart devices.

By Christopher Dawson - Business Strategy Director, VMob

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