My Trip Inside Target's Open House

The retailer hopes to bridge the gap between early adopter and curious consumer with its new experiential smart home store.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor

It's nifty stuff, but as Jason Del Ray points out in his Re/code review of the new store, Target commissioned a third party to create a single interface to control a number of the products it sells, but is using an approach that could backfire. He writes:

"Target convinced some of the startups to give it backend access to the smart devices so they could connect with other devices in ways their makers hadn't intended. As a result, shoppers will have to download a separate app called Yonomi to replicate some of the interactions on display in Open House's vignettes. Target doesn't have control over the Yonomi experience, which could lead to disappointed customers if they run into any trouble with the app."

A Nest Cam is mounted on a wall next to a crib, with a Mimo baby monitor onesie inside the crib, a humidifier plugged into a Wemo outlet (to set the timer) and a Sonos connected speaker linked to a baby monitor so that it will play soft music when an infant is unsettled.
But hey, at least that disappointed buyer can return the products if they're not as easy or as integrated as he or she might like. Right?

It will be interesting to see it Target can leverage the Open House concept into a tool for converting curious consumers into smart home believers. There are no immediate plans for more Open House locations just yet, but Casey Carl, Target's chief strategy and innovation officer, told Re/code that if the retailer finds that some of the demos or interactive elements of the San Francisco location strongly resonate with consumers (which I interpret as "lead to sales"), then they might be replicated at select Target stores.

Open House encourages visitors to touch and interact with featured items, which are available for purchase.
It turns out that Target isn't the only retailer to create a dedicated smart home showroom. Sears already has three special "Connected Solutions" departments in Chicago stores, and the retailer recently announced a flagship Connected Solutions store inside a Bay Area mall.

Okay, Walmart, where's yours?

Mary Catherine O'Connor is the editor of Internet of Things Journal and a former staff reporter for RFID Journal. She also writes about technology, as it relates to business and the environment, for a range of consumer magazines and newspapers.

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