Smarthome Direct Growth the Smart Way
By Matt Griffin
Exclusive product availability, proprietary technology and an energetic response to customer feedback provide Smarthome Direct with the keys to successful growth.
The concept of home automation may call to mind futuristic visions of robotic butlers and a retinal scanner for your home security system. But for Smarthome Direct, real-life home automation products have helped create a multibillion dollar business that's seen its 12-month housefile double over the past four years.
And Smarthome has done so by leveraging its unique and growing line of electronic home automation products against the home improvement craze that's engulfed the nation in the past few years, says Rajeev Kapur, president of the Irvine, Calif.-based cataloger.
Kapur notes that the company has sought to capitalize on the popularity of the ABC-TV program "Extreme Home Makeover," as well as myriad other home improvement shows, by treating home automation as electronic home improvement.
"People are looking for new ways to enjoy their houses and their home life," he says. "And electronic home improvement can offer the same thrill of improving your environment as painting a room or replacing your countertops."
SmartLabs' five catalogs, including its flagship title Smarthome Automation, contain such items as home lighting, home security and home theater products, among other gadgets, all of which offer a home improvement experience that customers can't find in retail stores. This exclusivity, combined with an increasingly proprietary product line and strict attention to customers' desires, has been the driving force behind SmartLabs' recent successes.
Serving a Narrow Niche
Smarthome's catalogs serve a narrow niche. Consumers interested in home automation traditionally have had few choices in where to buy these products, with big box home improvement stores carrying a small selection of products, says Coy Clement, president of catalog consultancy Clement Direct Marketing. "One of the things Smarthome does particularly well is that it packages a wide variety of home automation products, which you wouldn't find if you went to a Radio Shack store or Home Depot," he says.