A few months ago, I mentioned to Stacey that my local Lowe’s had a dedicated smart home store filled with products. I happened to go to Lowe’s earlier this week since we’re redoing one of our rooms and I spent some time looking over the smart home products and realized Lowe’s was collaborating with b8ta for the customer experience.
This partnership was actually announced in November, but I must have missed it. Lowe’s says it has 70 such smart home sections across the U.S. and after my perusal, I think it’s a great idea.
Prior to the “Smart Home powered by b8ta” implementation, you’d find different smart home devices in different aisles at Lowe’s. Smart bulbs would be with the bulbs, smart switches sat next to regular switches and so on. That’s not the way to tell a cohesive smart home story to potential customers. Instead, one section with various smart products is more compelling, not to mention a time saver.
I spoke to the customer representative in the smart home section and he said much the same. He was there as a dedicated helper to answer customer questions and tell that cohesive story because folks new to smart devices often don’t realize how these connecting things can all work together.
Surprisingly, there wasn’t too much representation of Iris products, which is the Lowe’s smart home brand. Sure, there were a few Iris products, but no more or less than from any other brand. I saw items from Amazon, GE, Google (and Nest), Honeywell, Lutron, Kwikset, Samsung, Schlage and more, to name a few. There was even this $595 digital art from from Meural, which was showing a goofy picture of the store manager. Of course, it can also display fine art: It comes with a number of images for free, but you can have “$3 billion worth of artwork” with a $40 annual subscription plan.
There was one thing I didn’t see but that’s a good thing: There weren’t any products from companies that were either shut down or in the process of shutting down. Stacey recently saw some of these “dead products” on retail shelves, and frankly, that should never happen; particularly if the company closure means no future device service. I commented on this to the store rep and he said that they regularly review and swap out products; he had just added a new GE bulb earlier in the day, for example.
Aside from the one-stop shopping and personalized help, I also liked how each product had a touchscreen display next to it. These are for folks who just want to get product information, specs, compatibility and features on their own. I found them useful. This is a mainstay of the b8ta stores and one of the reasons product makers pay b8ta to show off their wares.
The data from those touch screen interactions gets sent back to the product company so they know how interested customers might find particular devices. For b8ta, the Lowe’s deal expands its footprint beyond the relatively small number of dedicated b8ta stores
All in all, this is a brilliant idea for Lowe’s and they picked a great partner in b8ta. Will it sell more smart home products? Time will tell, but if I were in the market for smart home devices and didn’t know what I wanted, I’d be hitting up my local Lowe’s.