Summary:

Want to buy a connected door lock? Kickstarter is one venue, but thanks to news announced Tuesday the most complete package for connected devices might soon be Staples.

The Staples  Connect hub and app.
photo: Zonoff

Buying a connected device is tougher than one might imagine. For example some products like the Phillips Hue light bulbs are only available in one store, while a product like a connected lock could be sold at Home Depot or Best Buy. If you’re after a connected Sylvania light bulb in Target, are you going to look in the electronics section or the light bulb department?

As gadgets and home products blend, the retail channel must mature, but so far that hasn’t really happened in a coherent way. Oddly enough Staples, the office supply store has stepped up to be the place where consumers can go to buy a connected hub, download an app and then try out up to 30 devices that can turn today’s home into an automated wonderland. You’ll be able to see the whole display that will be used in stores at our Mobilize show coming up Oct. 16 and 17th in Stan Francisco.

In this week’s podcast, I speak with Peter Gerstberger of staples and Mike Harris, the CEO of Zonoff to discuss why Staples is making a big play with the internet of things and how it plans to do this. We discuss the smart home, the connected business and how Staples and Zonoff are thinking about supporting devices if the company providing them goes out of business. We also learn the startling fact that Staples is the second largest online retailer after Amazon.com thanks to its supply contracts with the Fortune 500.

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Show notes:
Host: Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Peter Gerstberger, Senior Merchant, New Business Development at Staples and Mike Harris, CEO of Zonoff

  • Why is an office supply company getting into connected devices?
  • How will this work?
  • Looking at Kickstarter and at big name brands for devices to integrate and feature.
  • How do you build a mass market platform while still incorporating what might be risky startups?

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