San Bruno, Calif. — Sears Holdings has formally opened an idealized, 4,000-square-foot Connected Solutions showroom within a Sears store here.
The department, first announced in January and soft-launched last month, is the physical embodiment of Sears’ connected-solutions strategy, a centerpiece initiative that overlays the retailer’s CE, majap, fitness and services areas.
Built within Sears’ The Shops at Tanforan mall store, the flagship shop features about 100 connected and connectible devices that are organized into four major categories: entertainment, fitness, home automation and security.
The Simply Entertaining section of the mock home includes smart TVs, Bluetooth speakers, streaming media players, and mobile phones and tablets.
The Simply Fit section features wearable fitness trackers, wireless bathroom scales and gym equipment.
Simply Automated provides demos of smartphone-controlled lighting, smart appliances and other household devices, while the Simply Secure area offers home monitoring solutions including smoke alarms, doorbells, CO2 detectors and security cameras.
The connected concepts are demonstrated via a series of room vignettes including kitchens, living rooms, a nursery, a bathroom, a backyard, a laundry room and a garage.
Many of the products are DIY, but dedicated sales associates are on hand to help explain and demo the devices, and to arrange for installation and tech support services for more complex set-ups.
The showroom is based on the results of a three-store pilot launched last year in greater Chicago featuring smaller 2,000-square-foot shops.
While there are no immediate plans for additional 4,000-square-foot showrooms, about 200 of the smaller iterations, with roughly half the assortment, will be rolled out to select Sears stores over the next three to six months, said CE and connected solutions president Ryan Ciovacco.
An expanded assortment is available online at Sears.com/ConnectedSolutions and via in-store digital kiosks, although “You really need to experience this stuff first hand,” Ciovacco told TWICE. “It’s hard to just see it on a shelf or in a video.”
The shops “get you over the hump of why you should spend $250 on a connected thermostat,” he continued. “Being able to explain how these devices work, and making sure they work properly for our customers, are the other elements.”
The latter is handled by Sears’ vast service network — the largest in the country — which provides installation, tech-support and repairs. “It’s not just installing the product, but also downloading the app and connecting the product to your home network and other devices,” he said.
Ciovacco, an Amazon home-automation alum, said Sears’ connected assortment is platform agonistic — “We want to make the experience as positive for members as possible, so we carry as much product as we can” — and doesn’t supplant the company’s CE or other product categories.
“We’re not getting out of categories or reducing assortments,” he stressed.
However, home automation is one of the fastest-growing CE categories, he noted, with some 20 billion IoT devices coming online within the next five years, connecting virtually everything.
“It’s a huge opportunity,” he said.