Smarthome Direct Growth the Smart Way
Root notes that because many of Smarthome's business customers are installers working on site in homes and offices, they have specialized reps who handle order placement and technical support. A higher percentage of dealer orders are placed on the phone than consumer orders because of the on-site labor, Root says, so Smarthome makes sure these customers have the necessary support available to them.
Dealer catalogs are printed separately from the consumer catalogs, and although Smarthome repurposes the majority of the content from the consumer books, new dealer prices are dropped.
Two Future Challenges
Smarthome continues to deal with what's perceived as an extremely technical product line. With products based on both the older X-10 protocol and its new INSTEON technology, Smarthome struggles to ensure that these products are accessible and understandable, not just to hobbyists and technologists, but to average consumers looking to improve their homes, Kapur says.
To overcome this hurdle, Kapur and Root have directed their teams to keep catalog copy less technical, touting the benefits of the technology rather than individual product specifications.
Also, earlier this year, the company launched a new catalog, Smarthome Style. In the past several years, Smarthome's customer demographics have gone from 80-to-20 male to female, to 55-to-45 male to female. So Smarthome Style addresses that shift by arranging products by living space, rather than product category. For example, rather than page after page of lighting controls and universal remotes, the book features a variety of products for use in the kitchen, followed by products for the backyard.
In addition to educating his customer base about the company's product line, Kapur wants to be sure to recognize future shifts in customer demographics. "A lot of companies don't realize that their demographics are changing or have changed," he says. "They just wake up one morning and realize their customer base isn't the same. For me it's about always making sure we have our eye on the ball, making sure we know who our customers are."