Connected Homes: WEF Report Shows Commerce Center For Consumers Helps Environment

smart home control app

Of all the things shifted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the concept of home has perhaps been the most changed. Home is quite literally where everything is these days, as an increasing number of consumers work, study, shop and are entertained there.

In short, as outlined in the latest edition of the PYMNTS/Visa How We Will Pay 2020 report, the home has evolved in response to the pandemic, digitizing into the new commerce command center from which the consumer consistently controls an increasing number of daily activities.

Approximately twice as many consumers shopped for retail products from home in the summer of 2020 as they did in the summer of 2019, and three times as many grocery shopped from home this summer over last summer, too. Twenty-three million consumers, meanwhile, used voice assistants to make purchases. The share of consumers making purchases via voice assistant has been on a persistent incline for the last 24 months — up 42 percent since 2018 and up 10 percent since 2019.

And when we step back and look at the consumer’s home as whole, the digital transformation is touching every corner of the house and household activity. Fifty-four percent of consumers now have a smart TV in their living room, 29.6 percent had bought groceries online within the last 24 hours, 37.6 percent had purchased retail goods in the same time period, 32.6 percent reported owning a voice assistant and 6.7 percent reported having used that assistant to purchase retail goods or groceries within the last 24 hours.

And while those trends are becoming more pronounced across the population in general, they are most pronounced among the youngest and fastest growing demographic of homeowners — bridge millennials, the same generation of consumers who are expected to drive the real estate market over the next decade. According to the most recent PYMNTS data, that generation of digital native shoppers are more connected than they’ve ever been and are now 105 percent more likely to do their retail shopping from home now than during 2019.

Moreover, new data from the World Economic Forum (WEF) shows that “smart” homes are more than merely desirable to consumers for convenience — they are actually better for the planet. According to the report, buildings represent 40 percent of mankind’s carbon footprint. Ninety percent of the world’s buildings were constructed before 1970, and therefore before the era of energy consumption concerns. Smart homes can begin to take on that problem, the report notes. Even simple innovations like smart thermostats, for example, can potentially help consumers cut power consumption by as much as 20 percent, simply by only running the heat when it is actually necessary.

But while the report agrees with PYMNTS findings that the connected home is both desired and broadly speaking desirable, the report also found in its survey that there is still a fair amount of complexity when it comes to bringing the connected home — and connected economy — fully online as issues persist in the areas of  governance and access.

The study found that safety and security, along with privacy and trust, were the areas of greatest risk and where most consumer trepidation is found. Respondents, however, also found that industry and governments are working hard to respond to privacy and security risks and that progress is being made in greeting clear guidelines and standards.

“As societies emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, a unique window of opportunity has opened to reimagine our relationship with IoT, realize new opportunities for growth and unlock a safer and more inclusive use of the technology. To do so, it is necessary to establish new governance norms to strengthen oversight and protect human rights for all,” the report noted.

What the Internet of Things (IoT) and coming connected world can do in terms of building a “a more sustainable and prosperous future for all,” is impressive, according to the report. But only with governance and rules in play that mean “for all” actually means for all, and not just for those who are already wired up and ready to go.

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