For consumers eager to jump into the smart home space, a new opportunity is opening its doors — showrooms. They sound old-fashioned, but when putting together connected devices, getting a chance to test and try as many products as possible can be appealing. That's the thinking of Control4, which builds smart home solutions across multiple products, and opening 140 new locations.
"We believe showrooms provide consumers with that opportunity," Hintze told GearBrain during a recent interview. "You have manufacturers like Ring investing in the retail space too."
Smart home products can be complicated, in some cases, to install. For every smart light bulb that's easy to put into a fixture, there's a smart thermostat that requires a bit of expertise to put together and get working in a home. While these devices aren't above the ability of a consumer buyer, Brad Hintze, Control4's senior director of product marketing believes that getting them all to work together — the smart thermostat with the smart lock, for example — has not been easy.
Online sales are growing, up 3.2 percent for the fourth quarter of 2017, from the quarter before according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. But Hintze says there's a high rate of return in the smart home devices bought online, and the need for a professional consultation is growing.
"People want to know, 'Does this work with this?'" Hintze says. "Consumers can come in and get a feel for it."
The new showrooms will open in the U.S., Canada, the UK, China and Australia, and will feature a variety of rooms and options including entertainment systems, smart lighting, security set-ups and devices that have voice control baked into them. Control4 hopes not just consumers, but home builders, architects and designers will try out their solutions — as smart homes are being built even as the studs and wiring is being laid out on a new space.
"Seeing and experiencing first-hand are fantastic means to understanding how smart home technology can fit into your life," says Control4 CEO Martin Plaehn in a statement. "Our new Control4 Certified Showrooms are an exceptional resource for consumers exploring smart home solutions."