Target’s ‘Open House’ is all about IoT

Discussion
Jul 10, 2015
George Anderson

The smart home is here. You can’t move in, but you can certainly take a walk through as Target debuts "Open House," a 3,500-square-foot acrylic concept store built to demonstrate how today’s devices work in practice.

Open House is designed for immersion. Shoppers can walk through the store and see how different devices (everything demonstrated is for sale) are connected to one another. Parents in a connected home, who use a baby monitor to keep watch over their child, will find new connected versions can trigger other devices, such as playing soothing music on a sound system or turning the coffee pot on in the kitchen. (They are going to have to get up anyway.)

"Putting a house in the space, we felt, was the most relatable and welcoming way to introduce these products," said Todd Waterbury, Target’s chief creative officer, in a statement. "What we’re trying to do is humanize and personalize the benefits of these products, as well as show them working in concert. It’s really about relevant storytelling and creating a destination for engagement and discovery."

Target Open House

Source: Target video

Target sees Open House, which was created by the company’s "Enterprise Growth Initiatives" team, not only as a means to introduce and sell IoT devices to its customers, but also as a learning lab.

"From a strategic perspective, we see Internet of Things as a megatrend on the horizon. We know it’s going to generate huge value," said Casey Carl, Target’s chief strategy and innovation officer. "We’re using Open House to test the trend, both for us and for guests."

Target is just the latest retailer to test an IoT concept. Last Month, Sears announced the opening of Connected Solutions, a 4,000-square-foot concept shop located inside a Sears store in San Bruno, CA, with IoT devices displayed by room. Sears currently operates two other 2,000-square-foot Connected Solutions shops in the Chicago area with plans to roll out the concept to hundreds of its stores across the U.S.

As a Fortune article points out, many others including Amazon, Best Buy, Home Depot, Lowe’s and Staples are also trying to figure out the best way to cash in on the IoT opportunity.

Do you think concept stores such as those opened by Target and Sears will help to accelerate the adoption of IoT devices? Would Target’s Open House concept work better as a standalone store or a shop within a Target store?

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Braintrust
"Any time you enable people to see the whole picture you take a giant step forward. The one universal longing we all have about life and the universe in general is this: "How does it all fit together?" "Where and how do I fit in?""
"The IoT concept stores are great examples of giving brick-and-mortar real estate a purpose and relevance. This gives the shopper a reason to go. A reason to go and experience: touch, feel, hear, and smell these devices and applications first hand."

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13 Comments on "Target’s ‘Open House’ is all about IoT"


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Dick Seesel
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

I shopped a Sears store recently in the Milwaukee area, and they were in the process of setting up an extensive “Connected Solutions” shop adjacent to the electronics department. (The merchandise hadn’t been set up yet, but the sales associate explained the idea to me.) I think Sears’ approach — integrating it into their existing stores — actually makes more sense than the idea of a pop-up store. Target certainly has enough real estate in its stores to roll out the idea faster, especially with their decision to take a more “curated” approach to the grocery business.

Ryan Mathews
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

To some degree of course they will, especially among early adopters. Naturally it all depends on how you define “accelerate.”

I think the Open House concept works best — at least at this point — as a store within a store. Worst case it will attract the curious who might buy something in the rest of the facility.

Grace Kim
Guest
Grace Kim
4 years 3 months ago

The more retailers show IoT devices on the floors, the more real it will be to consumers. We hear a lot about the concept, but rarely see it in action. For a movement like IoT that seems more like a futuristic nirvana in terms of ways in which we can live “smart,” there will be more adoption if the experience is more tangible. I think the concept store is better within the Target store. More foot traffic to the store and to the concept house.

Ian Percy
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

Any time you enable people to see the whole picture you take a giant step forward. The one universal longing we all have about life and the universe in general is this: “How does it all fit together?” “Where and how do I fit in?” Most things in our lives have little or no alignment with all the other things. And only when we see how things align does it all make sense. Seeing shelves of gadgets at Target does little for the customer.

The “I” in IoT should stand for “Integration.” If you don’t pull that off you’ll end up with drawers full of stuff you’ll never use after the first month. It’s easier to just walk over and turn the damn coffee on.

Adrian Weidmann
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

The IoT concept stores are great examples of giving brick-and-mortar real estate a purpose and relevance. This gives the shopper a reason to go. A reason to go and experience: touch, feel, hear, and smell these devices and applications first hand. These implementations provide differentiation from an online experience and allows the store to become a destination.

I believe Target’s implementation would work best as a store-within-a-store rather than a free-standing store. Set as a free-standing location it may be intimidating for a shopper. Why not take advantage of all of your traditional shoppers in the store? This concept would give shoppers a reason to stay in the store longer and allow them the opportunity to investigate, experience and be surprised and delighted.

Gordon Arnold
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

Retailers like those mentioned in today’s discussion will no doubt be turning away sales from small business and consumers for technical support and installation shortfalls. Telling the customer, any customer, that they can download an app and simply plug and play is foreboding to the client with multiple DIY information technology letdowns. The consumers that do invest will have a population percentage that will bring any and all technical issues back to customer service for resolution in terms of support or refunds. This makes the market very ripe for value added sales or a nightmare for the poorly prepared retailer. Another interesting observation is the high turnover in consumer preference and purchasing favoring the latest and greatest. Retailers must caution the buyers and planners to stay close to trends and newer technologies to keep closeouts in the acceptable range limits. A close look at how Sears and Walmart keep televisions, cameras, and the rest of their electronic products making money will help the newbies into this fast lane with no shoulders market.

Kai Clarke
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

This is a PR position. Opening up small, select, stores to promote a specific technology is trying to create a need where there really isn’t strong demand. These next generation loT devices are still too expensive and their sales clearly reflect this. The consumer is not yet ready to demand this technology, so it is more of a technology application that is looking to fill a problem that is not there. These retailers should be focusing on offering these devices online, with a minimal investment, instead of spending large amounts of money on a concept store that will only reach a local audience.

Cathy Hotka
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

Target’s Casey Carl also said that it will be important to avoid “selling smart devices in a dumb box.” Retailers are going to want to focus their smartest people on understanding how to leverage the IoT to create an immersive customer experience.

Lee Kent
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

Great concept, however, I agree that store-within-a-store would be a better bet. Get them into the store to experience and perhaps they will stay and buy something else.

I also like that this type of experience and focus goes more hand in hand with bringing Target back to their old Tar-chic concept.

But that’s just my 2 cents.

Anne Howe
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

Target is taking steps to learn the experiential retail business. Testing and learning is the smart way to go and makes sense to do in a pop up environment rather than in the “dumb box” that Casey Carl referred to. They can always do a store within a store concept , staffed with an outside trained and managed sales assist partner — like Samsung did with Best Buy. But first, they have to get the experience and human interaction piece of the puzzle solved on a smaller scale.

I also think the markets they choose to test will be markets where consumers will understand and be billing to try products that are part of the Internet of Things movement. Many of these are actually more service-based and the benefits need to be demonstrated in a more human way to be understood.

James Tenser
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

IoT is an unfathomable bit of tech jargon from the perspective of mere mortal consumers. So even these crude early efforts to show people how these connected devices can fit seamlessly into their lifestyles are pointed in the right direction.

We don’t need to quibble about the execution of Target’s or Sears’ efforts in this regard, any more than we needed to critique the details of the all-electric kitchen in General Electric’s Carousel of Progress at the 1964-65 World’s Fair. Right now, it’s all about visualization.

The connected home is coming in one way or another, and consumer electronics retailers will maneuver to capture share of the market for everything from web-connected refrigerators to smart light bulbs.

Do we need these Things of the Internet to survive? Certainly not, but the potential business opportunity for installing new devices in existing homes could be immense. Target and Sears are testing the edges of this new market. I think it’s a smart move.

Chuck Palmer
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

Any hub and spoke real estate strategy leverages the benefits of the actual location: Metreon in San Francisco is a great place to throw out a catalyst for conversation and reaction. When the assortment and distribution are nailed down, then the store planning and visual merchandising come into play.

I look forward seeing how they display this in my local store.

If nothing else, this is a clear message to Millennials that Target is getting more and more interested in the things they find important. Digital natives are open to ideas like a web enabled coffee pot.

Shilpa Rao
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

Yes absolutely, these kinds of concept stores help users to find solutions to their everyday problems.

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Braintrust
"Any time you enable people to see the whole picture you take a giant step forward. The one universal longing we all have about life and the universe in general is this: "How does it all fit together?" "Where and how do I fit in?""
"The IoT concept stores are great examples of giving brick-and-mortar real estate a purpose and relevance. This gives the shopper a reason to go. A reason to go and experience: touch, feel, hear, and smell these devices and applications first hand."

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