Will Amazon’s answer to the ‘Geek Squad’ help put Alexa in more homes?

Discussion
Source: Amazon.com
Jul 12, 2017
Matthew Stern

There’s a learning curve for setting up, troubleshooting and using voice assistant technologies like Alexa. Amazon.com is now addressing that with a new in-home installation and repair service that’s reminiscent of the Best Buy Geek Squad.

Amazon has been hiring skilled professionals over the past few months to install and repair in-home gadgets, according to Recode. The company sees offering professional smart home setup as a way to reduce the number of returns of Alexa-enabled devices. The service, which is already live in seven markets, comes directly from Amazon and is not related to the website’s marketplace for third-party services.

The section of Amazon’s website that describes the service gives users an opportunity to book a “smart home consultation for Alexa” and set up an in-home visit from an expert. It states that experts will install and customize the smart home setup complete with configuring settings and connecting devices to Alexa. The expert will also train users on how to control wired devices via Alexa and give the customer the opportunity to test new wired devices in-home.

Amazon’s move could pose a direct challenge to Best Buy, as the chain’s Geek Squad is one of its main differentiators. Best Buy’s recent turnaround has been attributed, in part, to its focus on Internet of Things (IoT) solutions and services.

Amazon is sparing no expense in trying to get Alexa into as many homes as possible. For Prime Day, the company heavily discounted the Echo and Echo Dot — two of the most popular Alexa-enable devices.

IoT installation and repair isn’t the only area where Amazon has begun to experiment with sending official employees into customers’ homes.

Last year, news broke that Amazon was seeking “Amazon Assistants” to carry out household chores in Prime members’ homes, indicating a plan to pilot an in-home cleaning and errand service as an add-on to Prime. There was also word of Amazon planning to roll out a service that would allow delivery people to enter customers’ homes to drop off packages when the customers were out.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will home installations put Amazon on competitive footing with Best Buy’s Geek Squad in the area of smart homes/IoT? Will customers be comfortable making use of such services from Amazon?

Braintrust
"Amazon is on the right course and perhaps this will get more Echos into the home."
"The Amazon Prime value proposition seemingly has no bounds."
"Amazon will not stop until they send someone to your home to brush your kids' teeth and pick up all the toys in their room for $5."

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13 Comments on "Will Amazon’s answer to the ‘Geek Squad’ help put Alexa in more homes?"

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Chris Petersen, PhD.
BrainTrust

The portal to the smart home and connected life will be the “digital plumber.”

The consumer’s Wi-Fi is the hub that runs everything right now, and it is the weak link. Many routers are old, unsecured and provide inadequate coverage to run connected devices. Consumers want assistance and are willing to pay for quality service.

Amazon may not be on par with the Geek Squad for awhile, but the beast in Seattle knows how to sniff out major opportunities for customers. And after all, Alexa is the portal for Prime … Amazon doesn’t need any more incentive than that to help consumers get connected and stay connected in their home.

Charles Dimov
BrainTrust

Great idea, Chris, about the “digital plumber” concept. This is brilliant from the perspective of Alexa becoming a trusted source of technical knowledge. If Alexa is able to get over this hurdle, it will be a doorway to faster equipment adoption by Main Street consumers. For the average person, when talking with when a “deep tech” recommends something (i.e.: a faster wireless router), many times the customer will agree to it and go with the recommendation of the trusted source. Doing this makes Alexa a key resource and an even more important sales gateway.

Ken Lonyai
BrainTrust

I was unaware that there was such a need.

This is clearly an important step to cement Alexa usage into the lifestyle of Amazon customers. I’ve said from day one that Alexa is a sales tool, everything else is just window dressing. By making a concerted effort to entangle the Echo series of devices into the fabric of shopper’s homes and lives, Alexa is a ready tool to make Amazon purchases fast and convenient. Coupled with Alexa’s proclivity to suggest Amazon branded products over others, this is a worrisome development for not only the Best Buys of the world but CPG brands and especially Google, which is trying to get traction with Google Home and Apple and Microsoft which are lost in the AA (artificial assistant) landscape.

Ed Dunn
Guest
10 days 21 hours ago

Amazon already won the battle — the critical mass realization hasn’t caught up to the reality. The competitive advantage Amazon has is the use of voice intelligence technology that retailers lack. By bringing experiential conversations into the home of customers via Alexa, Amazon can engage in first-mover conversations with people on products and services before they even pick up their keys to venture out to retailers.

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

The Amazon Prime value proposition seemingly has no bounds. However, this endeavor will require a merger of the digital and physical worlds. The advantage that Best Buy continues to have is that they have the “showroom” to demonstrate the products and give customers a multi-sensory experience, while the Amazon value proposition requires an in-home consultation.

Another challenge for Amazon will be that once the smart home is set up and integrated with Alexa, what will be the value-added services beyond the initial set up? It will seemingly run on its own. It will be very interesting to see how this plays out, especially in the seven proof of concept markets.

Either way, Amazon continues to experiment, innovate and expand their Prime membership value propositions in their continued effort to meet and exceed expectations.

Tony Orlando
BrainTrust
Amazon will not stop until they send someone to your home to brush your kids’ teeth and pick up all the toys in their room for $5. Many local small businesses already know that they are becoming targets ripe for the picking by Amazon. I see this as a death by a thousand small cuts, since I’ve been seeing it in my business for the last five years. Yes I’m a dinosaur in this business, but when I get a smile out of a little girl who gets her sample from our deli or a customer receives a free counseling session on diabetes or gluten issues, where we can help guide them with the proper food choices, it gives me some hope. Alexa is changing how people shop for sure, but there is nothing like the personal touch from some store that really knows how to treat you well. If that makes me outdated then so be it. Is there enough of these folks out there who want this service? I say yes, especially in a good economic area where consumers crave this and will be glad to pay for it. Stay focused my fellow retailers. Brush up on your… Read more »
Lee Kent
BrainTrust

This home installation will not put Amazon on par with the Geek Squad, yet. From the looks of the Amazon service, its focus is on the smart home. Primary uses of the Geek Squad are for computer repair/fixes. And, of course, the smart home concept goes much further than what Alexa can do right now. Amazon is on the right course and perhaps this will get more Echos into the home so as long as they keep their eyes on the bigger prize, they will likely succeed.

For my 2 cents.

Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

I don’t think Amazon cares whether or not they compete for market share with the Geek Squad for home computer and A/V installations anywhere near as much as they care about adoption of Alexa. With over 1,000 engineers reportedly working on Alexa, Amazon is placing a big bet on the future being voice-driven, and this investment is another insurance policy to make sure that Alexa remains our primary voice assistant.

Kai Clarke
BrainTrust

Yes, by adding service to their product offerings, especially in technology, Amazon is putting themselves into more homes, reaching out to more customers and developing an even stronger presence. The key to this success is keeping the service manageable and developing reliable service people, every day, for a reasonable price.

Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

There’s a huge opportunity going forward. Alexa is only the beginning; smart appliances, LED lighting and IoT of all kinds in the home are next. It’s surprising that Apple hasn’t surged to the forefront … but Google will happily take the lead.

Peter Charness
BrainTrust

So now it’s the 3 p’s Plug, Play and Pay for set up. Whatever happened to so simple to use and intuitive the hardest part is getting the cellophane shrink wrap off the box? Is this service targeted to the less tech savvy, more senior segment of our market? Is that where spend growth is coming from? Still you have to credit Amazon for getting more than their fair share of wallet from a completely frictionless experience.

Jeff Miller
BrainTrust

I don’t think Amazon is even thinking about this as a competitor to the Geek squad and is already looking past the Best Buy model of working with all current technology and doing what they do best — playing the long game and on looking at future technology. Alexa basics are super easy to use, but connecting it to other devices and learning about everything it can do does take some help and this is a great first step. It also will help Amazon over time put some real humans who are part of the company face to face with people. For how big Amazon is — there is no real humanity to the brand and having helpful people in the house making our lives easier will be a good start.

gordon arnold
Guest

During the 1970s & ’80s the information technology (IT) businesses exploded into what it is today. There were “computer stores” everywhere. As service and support needs became less necessary, stores started to close. The computer stores found market opportunity drastically shrink with the advent of bundled software and commodity pricing to result into where they are today, almost gone.

Baby boomers and small businesses are still slow to respond to the need for electronic automation and this created and maintains the need for a Geek Squad. The key here is that the Geek Squad is a market need and not a marketing plan to leverage consumer loyalty and purchases. Amazon’s attempt to siphon market share and strengthen enrollment renewals is not a “market need” and for that reason subject to the wrath of a faster, easier and cheaper solution from a brand X or market upstart. Or should I say start up?

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Amazon is on the right course and perhaps this will get more Echos into the home."
"The Amazon Prime value proposition seemingly has no bounds."
"Amazon will not stop until they send someone to your home to brush your kids' teeth and pick up all the toys in their room for $5."

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