Lowe’s is expanding its b8ta-powered smart home shopping experience to 70 stores nationwide, from its initial three-store pilot program, according to a press release.
The b8ta store-within-a-store displays use an experiential, try-before-you-buy approach to selling technology products. The displays are located near the front of Lowe’s stores and feature wood-paneled aisles where shoppers can find more than 60 smart home products, including security systems, thermostats, cameras, lighting, speakers and more. Brands featured include Google, Sonos, GE, Nest, Iris, Samsung and Ring.
The new displays are located in major U.S. markets, including New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Miami, Tampa, Raleigh and Charlotte.
Lowe’s started this year by cutting jobs, and it's still lingering somewhere in the shadow of Home Depot in the home improvement sector. But Lowe's is betting that the smart home market will deliver a bright spot — and it's not alone in betting on it. Many retailers are increasingly turning to smart home products as a way of generating new revenue from a previously untapped source, and the strategy makes a lot of sense for Lowe’s.
Some retailers pursing this strategy also are turning to third-parties for help, and that’s where b8ta comes in. Lowe’s began its pilot program with b8ta a year ago this month. In its in-store shops, a curated selection of smart home products are shown out of the box to encourage hands-on play and enhance product knowledge. Each in-store shop is staffed by "b8ta testers," experts in the technology who can assist customers.
This "lab-like" atmosphere, as Lowe’s described it, also features iPads with product-related content and pricing details. Smartphones are also available for customers to interact with products and supporting apps, the same as they would use them at home.
In addition to the store-within-a-store format, 1,000 Lowe’s stores recently rolled out specialized smart home displays featuring products primed for Black Friday and the Holiday gifting season. Lowe’s added a curated smart home experience to its website, allowing its online customers to learn more about the b8ta collaboration
The b8ta stores definitely help Lowe’s create a different sort of customer experience in their stores, but the partnership also provides exposure for b8ta, a company founded by Google Nest veterans a few years ago that set its sights on reviving brick-and-mortar retail through the development of unique in-store experiences. The Lowe’s expansion may speak volumes to b8ta’s ability to do just that, which means we may see b8ta engaging in other partnerships with major retailers before too long.