The Retailer and Manufacturer Panel



London, 7th December, 2016 – Industry experts meeting at the inaugural SH&BA Smart Home Retailer & Manufacturer Panel were unanimous that voice control is going to revolutionise Smart Home sales and accelerate mass adoption. The Panel also emphasised the opportunity of Smart Home for the elderly and disabled.

“Voice democratises Smart Tech but we are only 50% of the way there” said Rod Slater, head of Smart Home at Exertis. The panel of industry experts heard about where Amazon Echo is going since its launch in October. “Sales are going well. We’re at the early stages of voice control and have open-sourced the system to help develop the Alexa skills,” said Iain Dundle, Business Developer of Amazon Echo. “There’s a huge opportunity to have tie-ins to more products.” This was borne out by the participants, two thirds of whom already sell Echo compatible products and the rest have plans to do so.

The SH&BA Retailer & Manufacturer Panel also agreed that smart home provides an important opportunity to improve the quality of life of elderly and disabled people, and reduce the costs of care. “We should encourage and sponsor pilot projects to demonstrate the benefits,” said John Shermer, CEO and Founder of LightwaveRF, one of the leading UK manufacturers of Smart Home technology. “At the moment the potential of this area is not understood by the general public and we need to unite as an industry to give voice to this opportunity” commented Adam Simon of CONTEXT, citing only 4% of respondents to their European Smart Home Survey who showed interest in learning more about this. “For 2 million people in the UK who are blind or partially blind, smart home products enabled by voice control will change their ability to control their environment,” said Dendle of Amazon. The same is true for deaf people, elderly and those with other disabilities.

SH&BA is an Association which brings together experts in the Smart Home Industry. The Retailer & Manufacturer Panel met for the first time on 15th November with 32 attendees from 29 companies and will be meeting twice a year to act as a forum to discuss Industry issues for the Smart Home. At the first meeting of the panel, chaired by CONTEXT, the following companies were present: Retailers: Amazon, DixonsCarphone, Maplin, ShopDirect Distributors: Brightstar, Data Select, Exertis, Maxiim, Tech Data, Thames Distribution Manufacturers: Awox, D-LINK, Delta Dore, digitalSTROM, Fibaro, Hauppauge, LightwaveRF, Myfox, Neato Robotics, Netatmo, Samsung, Sengled, Tado, TP Link Other: CONTEXT, Consumer Lab, Direct Line Group, Home Hub Installations, The Mustard Concept.

Examples of other topics covered include: img_1128

  • Product curation: a vital topic which covers how manufacturers gain access to themarket .Different views were put forward, varying from the long-tail approach of Amazon to the curation offered by UK retailers. “Curation is a value-add that the retailer offers to the customer” said Alexander Allen, StrategyDirector of Maplin.
  • Product demonstration: it was agreed that demonstration is an important way of developing the category, but with technical problems such as connectivity in store and the need for space and resource, a call was made to manufacturers to make products with a demo mode (like TV’s) which makes it easy to demonstrate products straight out of the box.
  • From early adopters to mass market: the panel discussed how to reach out to non-tech savvy people. “How do we reach the new consumers? We need to generate use cases & bring it to life to enable transition of the technology from a ‘tech’ want to a lifestyle need. Assisted selling and rich content media will be critical to reach mass market” commented Teresa Johnston, head of Smart Home from Tech Data UK
  • Interoperability: the current state of protocol diversity was discussed, as well as the impact of voice control. “While voice control delivers connection to one point, and many products can be linked in, it does not resolve the interoperability issues” said Fraser Hamilton, Head of Purchasing of Brightstar. All agreed with the objective of interoperability, but the panel was reminded that proprietary systems have allowed start-ups to protect their IP in the early stages of company development.

Notes to Editors

About SH&BA

SH&BA is an Association which brings together experts in the Smart Home Industry. SH&BA’s mission is to grow the market for smart products and services through the exchange of knowledge and the promotion of new business opportunities and projects. To find out more about the SH&BA please go to the website on

For more information about this press release and the Retailer/Manufacturer panel please contact:

Adam Simon asimon@contextworld;com

+44 7748 903817