How technology connects consumers to products

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Having a fully connected home today is realistic and available in the mass market, although still more of a luxury; 30 percent of consumers already own some sort of smart device and, according to Gartner Predicts, by 2022 a typical home could contain more than 500 smart devices. At NRF 2019 Monday, a panel on the advances that connect our world included Jonathan Hall, brand marketing director at Whirlpool, Sleep Number President and CEO Shelly Ibach, and Tim Woods, general manager of the Autonomous Vehicle Alliance. Each conveyed how their companies bring ease, convenience and anticipation to consumers’ lives.

Hall explained how Whirlpool is helping homeowners transition from passive ownership to active ownership of appliances. Whirlpool has also rethought product presentation in showrooms and customized the selling experience to help associates bring deeper information to consumer purchase decisions. As the consumer adoption curve catches up to current technology, companies like Whirlpool will continue to provide their customers with top customization options and experiences that eliminate friction.

Sleep Number is known for using technology to change the sleep experience. Ibach said it is committed to contributing value to the consumer’s purpose-driven life, specifically through innovations such as its Sleep Number 360 Smart Bed, at the forefront of the digital health revolution. As healthcare becomes more customer-centric, this sleep-tracking bed fully integrates technology, health and retail. The way Sleep Number adds consumer value by connecting its products to their well-being is key to building loyal customer relationships.

Woods spoke about the AVA’s areas of focus: improving consumer, business and city ecosystems. Finding solutions for the challenges that retailers face is more complex than meets the eye; the AVA is working with people from all over the industry to mitigate pain points in their operations and consumer-facing sides. Automated vehicles can serve as both on-demand modes of transportation as well as distribution centers for retailers.

The advancement of technologies and an increasingly connected world will only continue moving forward. How retailers choose to integrate and embrace new technologies will differentiate top players in the ever-dynamic retail industry.

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