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TigerDirect Taming The Home-Automation Jungle

MIAMI – Realizing that dealers do not live on motherboards alone, Florida-based IT retailer and direct-seller TigerDirect has steadily expanded its assortment into A/V, imaging, mobile and other core CE categories

Along the way, the Systemax subsidiary amassed a sizeable collection of home-automation products. But while the selection was comprehensive, the presentation, like those of most category contenders, still left consumers scratching their heads.

That’s all about to change for the 34-store chain, and perhaps the industry, following the development of an interactive home-automation concept that makes connectivity comprehensible to the layman.

Recently unveiled at the company’s Adventura, Fla., store is a 400-square-foot home-automation shop, dubbed TigerConnect, with 10 dioramas representing the various rooms in a house, plus a full-sized hometheater section and a live security camera display.

The custom-designed vignettes are controlled by demo tablets, and graphically depict various remotecontrolled functions like lighting, security and leak detection on the Insteon and Zwave platforms.

In addition, a pair of gondolas 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 at TigerConnect’s debut last summer that the concept will serve to educate consumers and “give the customer a reason” to shop its brick-and-mortar stores.

To further differentiate TigerDirect showrooms, and encourage customers to keep coming back, the Adventura location has been updated into a new “storeof- the-future” retail format. Features include an expansive TV wall with an extensive Ultra HD selection, and a business services area that positions the chain as “a showroom for integrators,” Leeds said.

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

Meanwhile, as the company tweaks and assesses its connected-shop pilot and prototype store format, it’s also gearing up for its third annual TigerDirect Tech Bash at Marlins Park stadium here on Nov. 7.

The public event, co-hosted by Intel, will showcase new and emerging technology from nearly 100 exhibitors including AT&T Wireless, Alienware, Asus, Belkin/ Linksys, eBay/PayPal, Epson, Hewlett-Packard, iBuy- Power, Kingston, LG Electronics, Microsoft, Planar, Seagate, SMS Audio, Sony, SquareTrade, TCL, Viewsonic and Western Digital.

TigerDirect is anticipating some 20,000 attendees, up from last year’s 10,000, as well as celebrity appearances by 50 Cent and others.

Visitors can expect pre-CES product previews, giveaways, interactive games, food, cocktails and entertainment. The event will utilize Marlins Park’s hightech score boards and LED screens, and will employ the center field for brand activations and main stage performances.

In addition, TigerDirect has added a B-to-B component to its annual consumer-facing event, with Lenovo as the title sponsor.  The Innovation: IT Conference and Expo will feature tech manufacturers debuting new products and solutions, as well as IT-focused breakout sessions, interactive demos and on-site purchasing. Kevin O’Leary of “Project Earth” and “Shark Tank” will keynote the event.

The intention of the Tech Bash, said Intel and TigerDirect, is to create “a stadium-sized event showcasing the latest and greatest in technology while continuing their efforts to make Miami a technology hub for the Americas.”