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How Smart Homes are Influencing Wholesalers to Shift Towards a Consumer-Focused Market


The smart homes technology market is now worth an estimated £127 million. With this in mind, can wholesalers afford not to turn their attention towards a growing consumer market? Justin Ellis, senior data specialist at Comms Express examines the new trend.

Smart home technology has the capacity to drive significant consumer interest in IOT technology. Close to a quarter of Britons (23%) now own one or more smart home devices, according to YouGov - including smart lighting, smart security, smart speakers and smart thermostats. Once someone buys one smart home device, they are 40 per cent more likely to purchase another.

Every indicator we can draw upon at this stage suggests that smart home devices are set to replicate the speed of adoption that home computers have had since the millennium, where ownership has doubled from 44% to 88% of households in the UK.

Smart home technology would only need to replicate a small portion of this success to drive a significant prospect for wholesalers. But just how big an opportunity could smart homes be for wholesalers, and how will this change how the technology industry operates?

How Big is This Opportunity?

Using some very conservative figures, we valued the opportunity in the UK alone at a minimum of £127 million per year, although these figures are much more likely to be become a reality if companies can make our everyday lives easier and reassure us that our data is safe.

Expanding this to a worldwide market opportunity, Statista research tells us that IOT connected smart devices have increased from 15.4 billion in 2015 to 20.3 billion in 2017. Their research also estimates that by 2025 there will be 75.4 billion IOT connected devices.

With such significant revenues available due to surging interest in smart homes and IOT technology, it is little wonder that increasing numbers of technical companies are moving to take advantage. Wholesalers, value-added resellers and even software companies are increasingly moving away from strict B2B models to accommodate the changing tides.

In contrast, many businesses are purchasing SaaS, IaaS and other technology subscriptions across the board, with the traditional models of the IT Channel changing to accommodate these new models.

Consumer Demand

With the busy lives we lead today, automating some of the more boring elements of consumers’ lives is a driving force in everyday people going direct to wholesalers to satisfy growing demands for electrical products. 35% of the British public say they want a self-cleaning oven, 21% a self-cleaning loo and 18% a smart gardener! All of this suggests that whilst entertainment is important in the UK, the real demand is going to be realised as soon as technology companies start replacing more of our chores with smart technology.

The one factor that has been holding the market back is security. The industry hasn’t done enough to reassure people that their data will be safe with smart devices. Whilst a reported 59% of Brits do not feel deterred from buying smart devices despite the threat of cyber-attacks, 74% of millennials feel they would buy more if they were convinced the threats would not be a problem for them. 

Who Will Win?
There are likely to be three sets of winners in the battle for smart home supremacy.

1)  The manufacturer who monopolises the smart home hub market – the current leaders are Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant, but their market penetration is still relatively low to date

2) The controller of the ‘go-to’ operating system that integrates our smart home devices, much like Windows dominates the home PC market

3) Technology companies who take advantage of the opportunity

Smart Hubs

Smart Hubs are essentially just an evolution of the existing phone-based voice assistants which are now making their way into homes through dedicated devices. Predictably, the major players in the smart hub space are the same names we are already familiar with. Apple, Microsoft and Google are currently dominating the market and are all vying to establish a lead over the others as the hub of choice.

This is significant to wholesalers as it is likely that before long, an established leader will emerge to become the smart hub / operating system of choice.

How Wholesalers Can Make the Shift to Smart Home Technology
The wholesalers who will gain the most from this shift – from strict B2B models to incorporating smart home (B2C) technology – will be those that pick the right partners and sell the right technology. Many will have established partnerships and if they simply stick to these, they will be at the mercy of their existing partners’ own success. So, these are huge decisions that are going to be made by CTOs of every major wholesaler or value-added seller who is making the shift.

Whilst business spending on IOT technology is anticipated to increase from $964 billion in 2017 to $1,431 billion in 2020, the consumer market is anticipated to grow much faster and eventually overtake it. Consumer spending was $726 billion in 2017 and is expected to surpass business spending to hit $1,496 billion in 2020.

Comms Express is already putting strategies in place to get in front of this trend and seize this opening market. Is your business doing the same?