You could call it a sign of the smart home’s popularity.
Two pioneers in the retail industry—Target and Sears—are aiming to capitalize on the ever-growing popularity of home automation and the Internet of Things (IoT).
They’re highlighting, marketing and innovating smart home industry trends through glamorous in-store showcases that opened this past month in California’s Bay Area.
Target’s “Open House” is located at San Francisco’s Metreon shopping center, while Sears opened its flagship “Connected Solutions” store at San Bruno’s Tanforan mall in the heart of Silicon Valley.
The companies’ respective showrooms feature a myriad of products related to IoT. Both showcases are designed to replicate the interiors of an actual home and do not differ much in terms of size, with Target’s display area at 3,500 square-feet and Sears at 4,000.
These stores have created havens for builders and consumers to explore the best of the best in a rapidly evolving industry. But the question remains, which showcase does it better?
Learning versus Selling
While both Target and Sears are clearly focused on making money by capitalizing on a growing commerce, the former appears far more dedicated to the educational side of things.
Target holds regular meetings, tech talks, product demos and more in its Open House. It also places a strong emphasis on garnering customer feedback regarding the IoT tech being showcased.
“We don’t believe that we can predict the future and figure out where to go strategically by sitting around a conference room table,” says David Newman, director of Target’s enterprise growth initiative team, in a video press release from the company.
On the other side of things, Sears has focused far more on expanding its smart home showroom to the widest possible audience—a key move in boosting the company, which has certainly suffered financially in recent years.
Sears offers a website specifically dedicated to its Connected Solutions business model. The website divides its product offerings into five distinct categories
- Simply Secure (Smart Home Monitoring and Safety Devices)
- Simply Automated (Smart Lighting and Thermostats)
- Simply Connected (Smart Electronics and Networking)
- Simply Entertaining (Smart Home Entertainment)
- Simply Fit (Smart Health, Fitness and Wearables)
Currently, Target has no prominent online presence to promote its Open House products but has created a website to highlight the showroom and draw more people to the actual location.
Both Target and Sears are flourishing in their flagship showrooms, yet one in particular seems to be ahead of the curve in expanding this model to regions other than the Bay Area.
Sears surges past Target in terms of planning for the future. The retailer not only has three smaller IoT showcases currently open in the Chicagoland area, but it also plans to open 200 similar stores in locations all around the country.
Target currently has no such plans to expand.
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