Parks Associates announced new smart home research showing 26 percent of smart homeowners purchased their devices from brick-and-mortar retail stores such as Best Buy, Home Depot, or Walmart, making this channel the most commonly used among U.S. consumers. By 2021, more than 10 million smart home controllers will be sold in the U.S., and more than eight million will be sold through retail or other related channels.
The firm's U.S. Smart Home Tracker: Market Sizing & Trends notes this trend has influenced sales strategies for online giants Google and Amazon, which are striking partnerships with physical retailers as they are expanding the visibility of smart home products with POS displays, experience centers, and expanded shelf space.
"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," said Brad Russell, Research Director, Connected Home, 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 former retail rivals such as 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 innovative 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 said. "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."