Lowe's is expanding its "Smart Home powered by b8ta" connected-home shopping experience to 70 stores nationwide. The store-within-a-store concept, which was developed in partnership with software-powered retailer b8ta, features a curated selection of smart home products — e.g., security systems, thermostats, cameras, lighting equipment, speakers — that shoppers learn about and try before making a purchase. The stores also feature on-site support from specially trained experts known as "b8ta testers." Lowe’s is expanding the concept after a three-store pilot last fall was successful.
"Smart home products simplify life, but the technology can sometimes be confusing or intimidating," said Ruth Crowley, vice president of customer experience design at Lowe's. "So, we developed Smart Home powered by b8ta to emulate a ‘lab-like’ atmosphere that empowers customers to make informed decisions." In addition to the 70 stores, 1,000 Lowe's locations will also launch smart home displays ahead of Black Friday and the holiday shopping season. And the Lowe's website has also been updated to feature the b8ta collaboration, as well as to offer smart home product education, tips and tricks. "Smart Home powered by b8ta" is now located in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington D.C., Miami, Tampa, Raleigh, and Charlotte.
Total Retail's Take: Smart products and the greater Internet of Things category is growing in popularity with consumers and retailers. Lowe's recognizes that its shoppers are increasingly looking to purchase smart home devices, and it wants to help. The home improvement retailer has been at the forefront of integrating new technology and ways to excite customers through its Innovation Labs team. Earlier this year, for example, Lowe's rolled out a virtual realty experience that offers do-it-yourself assistance through tutorials inside Lowe's Holoroom. Then, in September, Lowe's launched two new augmented reality apps — one for measuring an object, or distance, within the phone's camera view, and one for viewing images of furnishings, at scale, within a user's own home.