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Coming this holiday to Best Buy and Target: The internet of things

Best Buy is creating new in-store Connected Home departments that should roll out to more than 400 stores by Thanksgiving (yes, there’s also a website). The departments will contain more than 100 smart home products, including the Peq hub, Nest and Honeywell thermostats, Dropcam cameras, Hue lights and many other brands large and small. There will be a mix of one-off devices and managed services from local ISPs or ADT, as well as more DIY-but-still-managed services such as Peq that come with a fee.

[company]Best Buy[/company] is also placing routers and access points in this section under the idea that they are the “plumbing” of a smart home. And the company is pitching router upgrades. Given how terrible some ISP equipment is and the associated monthly fees, buying a router upgrade isn’t a bad idea.

The Richfield, Minnesota–based retailer will also train connected home specialists in more than 200 stores. Those specialists can provide more help than the average Best Buy salesperson and get Best Buy’s Geek Squad into the home automation business with their own training. (I guess I have a fall back option if Gigaom doesn’t work out.)

Best Buy is joining other big box retailers such as Staples, [company]Home Depot[/company] and Lowe’s, which have also unveiled programs or connected home products in their stores. You can hear more from buyers representing those retailers later this month at our Structure Connect event on October 21 and 22, where buyers from [company]Staples[/company] and [company]Lowe’s[/company] will discuss their strategies for sourcing products and will talk about how consumers buy connected products.

Best Buy isn’t the only retailer gearing up for a smart home holiday. Jim Frey (@smartlumens) sent me a picture of a Massachusetts [company]Target[/company] featuring an end cap with Wink’s hub and various good, as well as what look like connected locks. I’ve reached out to Target to find out what it might be selling.

For the consumer, having smart home products in big box stores is good news. It will help drive the price of goods lower and also lets people touch and feel connected products before they shell out what can be considerably more than a non-connected product. I think trained staff will be an essential component to this strategy, as well as education about how these products can work together. Otherwise the line for returns after this holiday season will be long.

4 Responses to “Coming this holiday to Best Buy and Target: The internet of things”

  1. waynecaswell76

    BestBuy has the “potential” of becoming a big player in connected home products, but there’s still more work to do. On the plus side, having a large inventory and a website to help people choose is an advantage, as is having a dedicated section of the store. But appliances are in a different section, and consumer electronics are somewhere else, so it’s hard for consumers to actually experience the total value proposition. I doubt that store sales staff will know much about home control systems, meaning consumers will be mostly left to explore on their own, meaning that self-service point-of-sale education is key. I do like that the website includes buyer ratings. It should be able to evolve with instructional videos to show what can be done with automation and a little bit of effort, or a lot. That can even be integrated into the in-store sales process.

    A bigger problem will be when if-then-else automation evolves into smart agents with artificial intelligence and learning. It will then be even harder to show the value of a home that has learned about its occupants and become smarter over months or years of supporting them.