TigerDirect Gives Form To Home-Automation Category

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AVENTURA, FLA. — While brick-and-mortar chains from Lowe’s to Staples are venturing into the home-automation category with fledgling facings and endcaps, TigerDirect, the Florida-based IT retailer and direct-seller, is going all-in.

Last month the Systemax subsidiary unveiled a new retail format at a remodeled “store of the future” here that features an interactive home-automation section and other showroom enhancements.

The 400-square-foot connected-home department, dubbed TigerConnect, has 10 dioramas representing the various rooms in a house, plus a full-sized home-theater section and a live security camera display. The tablet-controlled vignettes graphically demonstrate various remote functions like lighting, security and leak detection on the Insteon and Zwave platforms, and were custom-designed to make the concept more comprehensible to consumers, the retailer said.

In addition, a pair of counters is mounted with examples of hubs, hard drives, sensors, thermostats, smoke detectors, wireless shut-off valves and keyless locks, each with clear, explanatory signage, and all under a roof-like setting.

“The category is brand new and hard to demonstrate,” acknowledged retail development VP Enas Raynor, who created the connected department and also conceived Circuit City’s innovative small-format “The City” concept. “No one is doing what we’re doing.”

Richard Leeds, chairman/CEO of parent company Systemax, told TWICE that TigerConnect, along with other store enhancements, will serve to educate consumers and “give the customer a reason to come, and not go to Amazon.”

Indeed, the No. 1 e-tailer has similarly upped the home-automation ante by doubling its assortment since quietly launching a virtual connected store one year ago.

“Home automation is on the minds of a lot of customers,” noted Amazon.com’s home improvement VP Jim Adkins. “Deciding which products best suit their needs can feel overwhelming, so we’ve worked to simplify that process.”

To that end, Amazon’s home-automation section features buying guides, educational videos and explanatory product pages to help customers navigate the category.

To further differentiate TigerDirect showrooms, and give customers plenty of reasons to shop them, the pilot store also features an expansive TV wall with an extensive Ultra HD selection, and a business services area that Leeds said positions the chain as “a showroom for integrators.”

Retail president Terry Perrin has also expanded the home assortment with such categories as lighting, small appliances, mattresses and bedding, and even wall- and freestanding safes.

TigerDirect provided vendors with a preview of its concept store before formally unveiling it to the public last month. Perrin said the company will tweak and evaluate the home-automation section and could begin rolling it out to other locations within the 34-store chain by the fourth quarter.

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