Amazon has launched a free in-home consulting service to extend its beachhead in smart home.
Leveraging its ubiquitous Alexa personal digital assistant platform, the company has assembled teams of in-house IoT experts that can visit customers’ residences and provide product recommendations and solutions for creating connected-home environments.
The service, simply titled Smart Home Consultation, provides a 45-minute visit by trained Amazon employees who can:
*assess and troubleshoot the home Wi-Fi network;
*demo suggested smart devices like Echo speakers, Philips Hue lights and TP-link plugs, with no obligation to buy; and
*train customers on the use of Alexa voice commands.
The complimentary service does not include the sale, installation or set-up of IoT devices; however, set-up is available for a fee of $10 to connect an IoT device, and $49 to install a router or smart thermostat. Appointments are available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week, and all services are 100 percent backed by Amazon.
So far the service is only available in seven West Coast markets, the Seattle Times reports, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Orange County, Calif., Portland, Ore., San Diego, San Jose, and Amazon’s headquarters town of Seattle, and 80 of the 85 customer reviews online since November awarded it five out of five stars.
The move follows a similar pilot by Best Buy called In-Home Advisors, which dispatches Blue Shirt consultants to customers’ residences for free advice on whole-home music streaming; setting up a home-theater system; improving Wi-Fi speeds; or connecting smart devices.
With their respective proto-projects, both retailers are betting that an increasingly complex web of IoT-connected products will generate greater demand for tech support, drive customer loyalty and revenues, and lead to ancillary product sales.
Amazon’s new service also represents its first known foray into in-house vs. outsourced home services.