News Feature | July 13, 2015

Connected Home Showcases Are The New Trend

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

Connected Home

Sears Opens Flagship Connected Solutions store in Silicon Valley, Target follows suit

Sears Holdings Corp. has opened a new flagship Connected Solutions store located in the heart of Silicon Valley, showcasing Internet of Things household appliances for the mainstream homeowner. The retailer has also launched a Connected Solutions website and is expanding its Connected Solutions offerings of connected-home smart devices in stores nationwide.

“Sears continues to be the authority in millions of American homes for products across all categories including appliances, fitness, auto, electronics and home,” said Ryan Ciovacco, president of consumer electronics and connected solutions, Sears Holdings. “Connected Solutions is smart made simple. It's more than just buying a device — it's creating an environment that allows our members to see how smart technology has the potential to solve problems, save money and make life easier. Online and in stores across the country, we're leveraging our home services expertise, dedicated technology support and installation network to seamlessly meet the needs of our members, from considering what solutions can simplify their lives to setting them up at home.”

The flagship store is located inside a larger Sears store in San Bruno, California. Sears already runs three smaller Connected Solutions showcase stores in the Chicagoland area. The new store offers wireless entry locks in the front-entrance area and Wi-Fi baby monitors in the nursery, with smart TVs and streaming boxes in the living room, and network-connected garage door openers in the garage.  The store has 1000 different products in inventory.

Ciovacco told TechHive, “We’re trying to move this space beyond the early adopter and into the mainstream.”

The new connected home stores also focus on employee expertise, trained tech support, and optional installation, Ciovacco explained, which will differentiate Sears from competitors such as Best Buy and Lowes.

Employees will “be able to show a customer how a motion sensor can be programmed to trigger a light to turn on, for instance,” he said, “And if they sell the customer a router, they’ll know how many devices that router will be able to support.”

Sears has plans to roll out smaller versions of the connected home showcases in 200 additional Sears stores over the next six months.

Meanwhile, Target announced the opening of a connected-home showcase in San Francisco’s Metreon shopping center. Target’s Open House is 3,500 square feet, and is more high-tech than Sears’ new center.  The Open House has interactive touchscreen tables that display wireless wearables and home convenience devices.  It also utilizes a mockup home that demonstrates how devices are connected from lights, to baby monitors, and connected coffee makers.

Todd Waterbury, Target’s chief creative officer explained, “What we’re trying to do is humanize and personalize the benefits of these products, as well as show them working in concert. It’s really about relevant storytelling and creating a destination for engagement and discovery.”

“From a strategic perspective, we see Internet of Things as a megatrend on the horizon. We know it’s going to generate huge value,” said Casey Carl, Target’s chief strategy and innovation officer, whose “Enterprise Growth Initiatives” team created Target Open House. “We’re using Open House to test the trend, both for us and for guests.”

Coming Soon: Innovative Retail Technologies

We’re rebranding! In time for the Sept/Oct issue, Integrated Solutions For Retailers will become Innovative Retail Technologies. Renew your subscription or subscribe today.