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Automation - Smart Home Step 3

Posted On - 20/10/2017 08:30:43

Automate your Smart Home and make it really clever"Smart Home Step 2" covered setting up a Mi|Home Gateway, Smartphone app and a Smart Plug. Basic stuff perhaps but it demonstrated how simple things can improve the security of your business.

Plus it grounds you with competences vital to progressing with Smart Home.

In this blog I introduce AUTOMATION. Would you like your shop windows to change as shoppers pass? Or get a customised daily reminder to submit your order for spares on time? Read on…

I didn't know you were here!

It's a phrase I know many of you've heard. Someone walks in your shop looking around in amazement and says it.

Doesn't matter you've been there years to them you're new.

And it shows how tough it is to register in people's minds. Because in their day-to-day lives, you're not the focus of their attention. It's not they don't like you, think you're unimportant or no good, it's that their minds are on other things. So they walk past every day and simply don't notice you. Their minds are on other things. Things important to them.

How can you break their train of thought? How can you get them to notice you? Motion and bright lights in your windows would be a good place to start – more on this later. For much more on grabbing attention and combating ‘inattentional blindness' see my blog "Stupid Marketing and How to Stop It".

Build displays that grab attention

Yes, you need to build great looking window and internal displays. Yes, you need to show-off products to their best and make them look amazing. And yes, you need to do more. It never stops does it? Because to run a great shop you've got to be worth the visit. You've got to be more than a room full of shelves, you've got to be remarkable.

So I'm talking about making your already fabulous displays into something just that - extraordinary. Displays that don't just present and show-off products, they reach out and tap people on the shoulder. Displays that break people's train of thought. Displays that can't be invisible or ignored. Displays that get noticed.

How? This is simple. You'll be amazed when you see...

Take the Smart Plug you set up in "Virtually Home" last week and link it with a motion sensor. Plug in a bright light and set the sensor to trigger when it spots motion. So as someone walks by the light comes on. They can't help noticing and look. And they notice your shop and what you do. Voila! Smart Shop Windows!

For the attention of…

OK, so what I've set out is very simple. You could call it crude. But it does the job. For something more sophisticated scale up with several Smart Plugs and coloured bulbs. But I'll save Smart Bulbs for another time...

You now know how a Smart Plug and Motion Sensor can help promote your business better and sell more. Because if you follow my advice, that's what it'll do. Now, I glossed over some of the detail set-up, I wanted to get the point across. That doesn't mean what I've said won't work. It's that there's nitty-gritty that'll bog things down if it's here. If you want that see "Smart shop windows set-up" below.

Last orders please!

Getting standard next day delivery is a godsent. It means you can offer a next day service for some repairs and orders – brilliant! But remember to submit your basket in time: 6pm Monday – Thursday, 5pm Fridays.

I know some of you go to the wire on this. Whether you're trying to secure free delivery or too busy to remember the deadline passes. And while we do our best to help, trucks have to be despatched – no questions.

If you've ever missed the deadline you'll know how frustrating it can be. Work pushed back. An empty day. Promises made broken. All because you… Well, whatever, it doesn't have to be like this. There's a straightforward way to give yourself a nudge with time to spare. How? More in a mo.

Why don't shopping trollies steer straight?

Setting an alarm on your phone would be a way of alerting you it's time to submit your Target basket. But that would mean the alarm's tied to your phone. And besides it's just a noise - what was it for?

A way to create a Smart Alert is use IF-This-Then-That (IFTTT). IFTTT alerts can notify you with a specific message on email, Twitter or SMS (to mention a few of the ways possible).

Remember how in "Step One to Smart Home" you set up an Applet that emails you with the latest IFTTT blogs and updates? Well, all you have to do is create one that emails, Tweets or whatevers you at a particular time each day with a set message. What could be easier? For more detailed instructions see "Time to submit your Target basket" below.

Getting smarter

In "Virtually Home" you learned some Mi|Home basics and how to make your business safer. In this blog we've taken that and added in automation to make products work by themselves - the motion activated shop window that grabs the attention of passers-by. We've also looked at Smart actions beyond Mi|Home, specifically web services. How you can use IFTTT to improve your productivity with a reminder so yo don't miss our order deadline.

In the next blog we start getting quite clever, linking Mi|Home with IFTTT to achieve even more. Like to learn how to set up a footfall counter for your shop? Or one that estimates numbers of passers-by? See "One Potato, Two Potato… Smart Home Helps You Count (Step 4).


Smart shop windows set-up

This section sets out more detail on setting up shop widows that grab attention:

  • Mi|Home motion sensors don't work through glass and are IP22 rated. This means it's OK to set them up outside but you'll need to shroud them from rain
  • The phone app will pair devices with the gateway and allow you to add them to groups. But it can't get different devices working together. For that login to (see below). If you've already paired the motion sensor you'll see it listed. If not click "Pair New Device" and follow the instructions. They're very clear
  • To link the motion sensor and plug together login to In the motion sensor icon click "Triggers"
    • Against "when motion is detected" select "power on" – a new dropdown will appear so you can select the relevant device
    • Select the plug to trigger
    • Against "when" choose the times you want the plug switched by the sensor
    • Against "after" set the trigger delay (seconds)
    • Against "when no motion is detected" choose how you want things to work
    • Click "Set Triggers" and the sensor will now power on the plug when it detects motion
  • Mi|Home also have a Smart Plug+. The "+" does everything a standard plug does plus it monitors energy useage. This may be of interest if you want to track how much your new attention grabbing display is costing you

Time to submit your Target basket

IFTTT is pretty easy to use. The most difficult thing is grasping the possibilities it presents. Which is why I advised setting up an Applet to receive email updates about it – see "Step One to Smart Home". Here, I'm going to describe how to create an Applet that'll remind you daily with the customised email message:

Subject:    Complete Target Basket
Body:       It's Xpm on Yday. It's time to submit your Target basket. Don't miss the 6pm deadline!

Here's how you do it:

  • The trigger service works by firing at a specific time for selected days of the week. This means you'll actually need to create two Applets. One for Friday and one for Monday – Thursday
  • Login to your IFTTT account and choose the Date & Time service
  • Within the Date & Time service choose the "Every day of the week at" service
  • Complete the trigger fields choosing the time of day and days of the week. As a suggestion why not 5pm Monday to Thursday?
  • Click "Create trigger"
  • Click "That" to choose an action service
  • Click the email icon
  • Under "Choose action" click "send me an email"
  • Complete the action fields
    • Delete the auto filled "Subject" and replace with "Complete Target Basket"
    • Add the existing "Body" as follows:
      • Click the cursor into the "Body box" after "CheckTime" and type "on"
      • Click "ingredient" and click "day of week"
      • Click the cursor into the body box after the string. Type "It's time to submit your Target basket. Don't miss the 6pm deadline!"
      • [The whole string in the "Body box" should read "It's {{CheckTime}} on {{DayOfWeek}}. It's time to submit your Target basket. Don't miss the 6pm deadline!"]
    • Click "Create action"
  • Click "Finish"

You've now created an email to alert you about basket deadlines for Monday to Thursday. The email will go to the address you used to create your IFTTT account. Create a second Applet for the Friday alert. Say 4pm… And don't forget to change the content of the alert email…

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