The Internet of Things is set to go mainstream after John Lewis revealed plans to open the biggest retail space in the UK dedicated to Internet-enabled home devices; a phenomenon which has been hailed as a new era for one-to-one marketing.
This week, the retailer will unveil a 1,000 sq ft space in its flagship Oxford Street store, following an 81% increase in sales of “smart” home gadgets, including fridges that support online grocery shopping and ovens that can be turned on remotely.
John Lewis buying director Jonathan Marsh said the retail group wanted to demistify the market. According to a recent survey of 500 UK chief executives by Webroot and IO, some 54% plan to employ a chief IoT officer during the next 12 months. And these are not just big firms, a quarter of those surveyed were small and micro-sized businesses.
Last year, the Government pledged £40m in funding towards IoT research and there are already over 40 million devices connected via the IoT in the UK alone.
It is expected that globally up to 50 billion smart devices, ranging from cars and parking meters to coffee machines and combine harvesters, could be connected to the Internet by 2020, each using tiny slivers of spectrum to get online.
The move comes as John Lewis opens applications for JLAB 2016, its start-up accelerator programme run in association with innovation partner L Marks.
Now in its third year, JLAB supports the development of bold new ideas, and drives innovation in retail.
JLAB 2016 immerses startups in the workings of John Lewis, exposing them to different facets of one of Britain’s leading omnichannel retailers. Based in John Lewis’ London HQ, participants will work with top-level mentors for 12 weeks, assigned according to specific industry expertise.
Paul Coby, IT director at John Lewis, said: “JLAB is about bringing disruption and innovation to the retail industry – we want to develop ideas and technology that really excite John Lewis shoppers. To do this, it’s essential that we work collaboratively with fast-growing businesses to add value to their operations.”
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