Smart-home devices are gaining popularity in the U.S., with brick-and-mortar stores the channel selling the most, according to research firm Parks Associates. The new report, U.S. Smart Home Tracker: Market Sizing & Trends, shows 26% of smart-home owners purchased their devices from stores such as Best Buy, Home Depot, and Walmart locations. By 2021, more than 10 million smart home controllers will be sold in the U.S., and more than 8 million will be sold through retail or related channels.
The report notes this trend has influenced sales strategies for Google and Amazon, which are partnering with physical retailers as they expand visibility of smart-home products with POS displays, experience centers, and expanded shelf space.
Brick-and-mortar retailers have an advantage with smart-home devices. An expert can demonstrate use cases and present personalized value propositions to consumers.
“Smart-home products flourish in face-to-face and consultative sales channels, where an expert can demonstrate use cases and present personalized value propositions to consumers,” says Brad Russell, research director of connected home for Parks Associates. “Brick-and-mortar retailers have an advantage here, and they are leveraging their assets in a competition to be the trusted advisor on connected living. To lower barriers, many are offering these services at no cost.”
Best Buy recently added shelf space for Amazon Alexa and Google Home products in nearly 700 U.S. stores to capitalize on mounting consumer interest. Amazon has also expanded its sales strategies by announcing partnerships with Kohl’s, Sears, and Best Buy, while also showcasing products in recently acquired Whole Foods stores. Google responded by announcing a partnership with Walmart that enables consumers to order Walmart items through Google Home for home delivery.
Lowe’s, following a successful pilot of its partnership with b8ta, is expanding its “Smart Home powered by b8ta” shopping experience to 70 stores nationwide, where consumers can trial and get support for a variety of smart-home technologies. b8ta’s retail-as-a-service offering leverages data-driven customer insights to streamline the education and purchase process while giving manufacturers valuable data for future merchandising efforts. b8ta has opened stores of its own in eight major U.S. cities.
“These moves will blur the lines between online and offline retail,” Russell says. “Consumers will expect access to product information and products anytime, anywhere. This is new territory, so it remains to be seen whether these partnerships are mutually beneficial or more lopsided than intended.”
Parks Associates will host CONNECTIONS Summit: Engaging Consumers: IoT and the Smart Home Jan. 9 at CES in Las Vegas. The event features the firm’s smart home research and panel discussions with executives from ADT, Carrier, Comcast, Google, Intel, Samsung, Vivint, and more.