Retailers told to adapt or die in an asteroid strike of technological changes

Dixons Carphone’s Seb James says rise of household gadgets connected via the internet means new services will be needed to meet shift in consumer behaviour

Retailers will be hit by an ”asteroid strike” of technological change that will kill off those that fail to adapt, according to Dixons Carphone boss Seb James.

The arrival of household technology that communicates through the internet - the so-called internet of things - would bring a shift in consumer behaviour and the retail landscape as dramatic as that caused by the advent of the internet itself, which led to the closure of thousands of high street stores.

“We are coming to the era of the connected customer, the latest in a series of shifts created by technology,” he told the Retail Week Live conference in London. “This shift is going to bump off as many retailers as the last. It will be a total asteroid strike at the heart of retail.”

The new technology, from health monitoring smartwatches to washing machines that can tell engineers when they need repairing – will mean retailers need to offer services to help consumers with the new products and keep them operating correctly.

Today the average home has about 12 connected devices, mostly phones, laptops and TVs, but this could rise to as many as 70 within two or three years, said James.

Tech group Cisco Systems thinks the “internet of things” could be worth $14.4tn (£8.5tn) by 2020 when 50bn objects will be connected online.

That changing landscape fuelled the merger between electrical goods retailer Dixons and mobile technology business Carphone Warehouse last year.

Retailers will need to find ways of handling thestream of data about their customers so that they can serve people effectively.

“Your connected home will know when you’re in, what mood you’re in, your temperature preferences and family members. They’ll know the state of health of your dog, how far you jogged this morning and what brand of toothpaste you like and how much you have left.

“It’s a little bit creepy but we’re all going to have to get used to it as information which used to be so hard to get is now going to be so easy to find new skills and tools [to deal with it].”


Sarah Butler

The GuardianTramp

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