The global market surrounding the 'Internet of Things' (IoT) – connected devices that are able to communicate with each other – is predicted to grow to $1.7tn in 2020 from $655.8bn in 2014, according to US market research firm IDC. Tapping into the potential of this burgeoning market, US chain retailers Target and Sears have both launched 'connected home' retail concepts within the US tech innovation heartland of California.
Located in tech-hub San Francisco's Metreon shopping centre, Target's Open House retail concept is a 3,500 sq ft transparent acrylic structure consisting of a series of interactive room vignettes. Each tells a story of how multiple devices connected via the IoT might work together. For example, visitors can see how a baby's morning stirring prompts soothing music on the sound system and a pot of coffee brewing in the kitchen.
Indicating that the concept is as heavily rooted in spotting future opportunities as it is in clinching current sales, David Newman, head of Target's Technology Innovation Centre, commented: "The design of the Open House space is to bring together the consumers, the makers, the businesses, see all of these products working together, and to help us figure out where the growth lies for the future."
Demonstrating its commitment to driving this collaborative conversation, Target is inviting anyone with a compatible business start-up idea to tweet @targetopenouse and #TGTOHproducts for the chance to be included in the evolving space.
US department store chain Sears has unveiled a showcase shop-in-shop for the connected home in San Bruno, California, equally aiming to help give consumers an up-close, hands-on physical demonstration of how devices can work together in the home. The 4,000 sq ft store is anchored around a series of living areas, including a kitchen, nursery, living and workout room, garage and outdoor area.
Echoing Target's edutainment-style approach (see The Rise of Edutainment), Sears staff are on hand to demonstrate, for example, how a fitness tracker may be connected to bathroom scales and/or at-home gym equipment, or how a smartphone can control lights, electronics and appliances.
The San Bruno store is part of a wider strategy for Sears that began as product micro-shops in 2014 (see our full blog post for more), and will now be rolled out across the US. There is also an online accompaniment to the initiative – a Connected Solutions microsite where consumers can view products by room, as opposed to the traditional listing of by product type.
For more on the value of using experiential, contextual environments for selling and marketing technology, see Selling Technology, Intel's In-Store Experience, Verizon's Edu-Tech Flagship and Radioshack's Technology Playground.
For more on the power of 'contextual commerce', see Experimentation & Co-Creation in our Future of the Store Industry Trend, Retail Domiciles, Future Stores: Brand Hubs & Product Playgrounds, Virtual Immersive Commerce in our Post-Digital Macro Trend, and Collaborations Beyond the Shop Floor in our Anywhere Retailing Industry Trend.
For more on the future of the IoT, see NeoCon 2015, Wired Health 2015, SXSWi 2015: Soft Tech, Extra Purchase with Predictive Analytics in New-Gen Fulfilment, part of our Roaming Retail Industry Trend and DLD 2015: Better Tech.