Do smart homes live beyond Home Depot, Sears, Target and Walmart? – GreenBiz
We at the Shelton Group have learned, through years of work with sustainable product manufacturers, that growing sales without good retail distribution can be a steep uphill battle.
Itâ€™s always a bit of a â€œchicken or eggâ€ game. Retailers want manufacturers to prove consumer demand for products before theyâ€™ll commit precious shelf space. But most mainstream consumers remain largely unaware of more sustainable options and are unwilling to adopt them until they start seeing them at shelf.
But consumer interest in and demand for smart home products and apps is growing astronomically, and retailers have decided to get on board this fast-moving train.
TheÂ 2015 Internet of Challenges ReportÂ by ThroughTek (Kalay platform developer),Â released in June, found that 31 percnt of Americans â€œbelieve a fully connected home will be achievable in the next year,â€ and 60 percent think it will happen within the next five years.
Our fresh-from-the-field 2015 Energy Pulse data shows that 35 percent of smartphone or tablet owners already use their mobile device to monitor or control home functions, andÂ 62 percent of those who donâ€™t say they plan to do so within the next year.
Why the confidence? We think itâ€™s because theyâ€™re seeing it at retail, and the technology is beginning to feel less risky and more normative.
Last year, Best BuyÂ announcedÂ that itâ€™s updating 400 stores to include Connected Home departments, where an increasing number of products by Nest, Belkin WeMo and other similar brands will have designated shelf space.
At the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Loweâ€™s (Iris) displayed a â€œfully realizedâ€ smart home. And 1,500 select Loweâ€™s stores around the country are featuring these new, innovative products in precious endcap advertising space.
My local Home Depot is also featuring its Wink line of connected home products in the most visible front-of-the store endcap space.
Walmart now has a â€œYour Life. Connected: Home Automationâ€Â site. Featured products include smart thermostats, lighting, locks and Wi-Fi cameras.
Sears has started toÂ put Connected Solutions ShopsÂ in 200 Sears and 300 Kmart stores around the country. Each one features a 50-foot aisle stocked with live displays of over 100 wireless products, including wearables, locks, garage door openers, thermostats, motion sensors and monitors. Sears is also planning a major demo-home prototype display in one California city.
Finally,Â TargetÂ rolled out Connected Life departments in 1,800 stores in May, featuring connected light bulbs, baby monitors, sprinklers, doorbells and more. And in July, the company launched Target Open House in San Franciscoâ€™s Metreon shopping center. The display, which is described as â€œpart retail space, part lab, part meeting venue for the connected home tech communityâ€ is a futuristic interactive exhibit featuring a transparent, acrylic â€œhouseâ€ to better highlight the devices and their uses.
While retailers are embracing connected home technologies, â€œright sizingâ€ is still a challenge. In some cases, retailers have reportedly pulled back displays due to limited sales or product availability. Distribution is currently pretty targeted to high-propensity markets. But with the growing interest, itâ€™s likely that major retailers will continue to grow shelf space for connected home devices as sales grow.
By the way, while the terms â€œconnected homeâ€ and â€œsmart homeâ€ are often used interchangeably by consumers, andÂ Contractors.comÂ notes the terms are currently â€œnot regulated by any particular government, group or agency,â€ they are distinctly different to manufacturers and contractors.
In a recent report, “The American and EMEA Markets for Thermostats,” research firm IHS defines â€œsmartâ€ thermostats as those that are connected to the Internet and make automatic adjustment decisions.
Retailers are adding to the confusion. For example, click on Walmartâ€™s â€œYour Life. Connected: Home Automationâ€Â siteÂ and the smart thermostat link takes you to standard programmable thermostats (which are not considered smart), as well as sensing thermostats (like Lyric) and learning thermostats (like Nest).
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