More training needed on wi-fi, say dealers

From the Retra conference in London

Electrical retailers have called for more industry training on how to set up wi-fi and IT networking if they are to sell the smart home successfully.

Speaking as part of a retail panel discussion at this year’s Retra conference in London (October 11), Graham Russell (pictured second from left), director of Aurac Sound & Vision in Billingshurst, West Sussex, said: “Some of the problems that you get when you go on manufacturer-specific training courses are that they are very narrowly focused on their products or ecosystem. No manufacturer is going to say ‘this is what we’ve got and if you want to integrate it with our competitors’ products, this is how you do it’. The way that we’re going to make money going forward – and give the best to our customers – is by learning and bringing all of those things together to provide services.”

Mr Russell’s view was echoed by fellow panellist Phil Hansen (far right), operations director of UK hi-fi trade association the Clarity Alliance, who said: “The manufacturers are, by and large, very good at running training programmes for their products. What retailers – be they brown goods, white goods, hi-fi or custom installation – need is training on network infrastructures. If you don’t get the infrastructure right, you’ll never make a smart-home system work effectively and flawlessly – you’ll just become a computer help desk and no retailer wants to be that.”

Added Robert Hughes (second from right), managing director of Hughes Electrical, who was also speaking on the panel: “We’re fine on the products – it’s the practicalities in the house that are the issues, like clashes with wi-fi. There is a need for more training to sort out the networking issues – you can’t always find the problem in the customer’s house first time. We wouldn’t expect a manufacturer to train us on the clashes that you can get with other systems or networks – we have to find our own solutions and learn and feed off each other.”