Consumer adoption of smart home devices -- particularly lighting, home monitoring and security, and temperature control -- continues to grow.

As global availability of such products increases, the analyst firm International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts an annual growth rate of 16.9% between 2019-2023. It also anticipates that nearly 1.6 billion devices will be shipping in 2023.

But here’s the implied challenge for connected home product manufacturers: How do you develop and launch smart products that customers will love, especially if your company doesn’t yet have the in-house expertise to create them?

One solution, of course, is to hire Internet of Things (IoT) software experts. The problem, however, is that it could take months, and a big investment in salaries and benefits, just to assemble the team you’ll need.

A quicker and more cost-effective way to get started is to work with an IoT platform provider.

That’s what Hamilton Beach did when it partnered with the Ayla team to develop an automatic reordering system for coffee and brewing supplies. The company’s new FlexBrew Single Serve Coffee Maker leverages Ayla technology and Amazon Dash to send more coffee to customers when the pantry runs low.

Learning from Consumers

Atle Larsen, Hamilton’ Beach’s vice president of product marketing, is encouraged by how the FlexBrew Single-Serve creates a “relationship” with customers – one that would not be possible before the advent of connected home products. Larsen said the coffeemaker is a baseline for how future connected Hamilton products will learn from user interactions “what features are most valuable to them.” Such insight can inform Hamilton Beach’s product designers when it’s time to revamp older products and create new ones.

Staying Connected Through Service

Another benefit of working with a connected home IoT platform provider like Ayla is that manufacturers can integrate proven, pre-built IoT functions into their connected devices. For example, Ayla’s secure mobile app for owners of Kenmore appliances allows Sears Home Services technicians to remotely diagnose a consumer problem and be ready to fix it quickly, by coaching a consumer over the phone; by using an “over the air” software update; or with just one visit to the customer home. 

IDC analysts say such customer service apps and smart assistants eventually will become a cornerstone of the experience for owning connected appliances, which will need occasional software upgrades and servicing. 

Patrice Samuels, senior analyst at consumer technology research firm Parks Associates, advises manufacturers to build in a smart customer service component to connected home devices. Because without customer service help, she says, consumers are slightly more likely to return smart-home devices than other consumer electronics products. 

“Support services with intuitive self-help solutions, which can be scaled up to more robust and engaging services when necessary, will find a receptive customer base among today’s smart home households,” Samuels says. 

If you would like to find out more about how Ayla can help your company connect consumer products and build better relationships with customers, see our Consumer Solutions pages or contact us for a free consultation.