Target pilots connected living concept

Target (NYSE:TGT) has been testing ways to bring the concept of connected living – and related products – to stores and is piloting the concept in a single store in Minnetonka, Minnesota.

The concept called Open House opened last summer in San Francisco. Part learning lab and part meeting venue for the tech community, the goal "was to understand how to display and educate consumers on connected home products," said Casey Carl, chief strategy and innovation officer. "We have learned three big lessons: storytelling is key to helping guests understand how they might use connected devices, having a knowledgeable team member on hand is extremely important and guests want to see products in a real-life setting."

Now called Connected Living, the in-store experience is meant to show shoppers how the connected home can make life easier, more convenient and more efficient.

The pilot is modeled on the lessons learned from Open House, which uses a physical "house" space and LED screens to illustrate how connected products work in a real-life setting, according to Target.

It will be organized into six sections and feature a dedicated employee, or "expert;" animated discovery tables; and LED screens to tell stories that illustrate a product's usefulness and ability to work with other devices.

In all, the six areas are: family fitness, connected kitchen, virtual guardians (security devices), connected nursery, rest and relaxation (sleep monitors), and item trackers and smart buttons.

"There is tremendous untapped potential here, and we've been steadily adding more connected products to our assortment," said Scott Nygaard, senior VP, merchandising, hardlines. "But the market is still early and consumers are focused on single-use, single-benefit products. Our goal is to educate and inspire guests about the potential of connected devices, and take learnings from the test to refine the experience with the hope of eventually expanding it to more stores."

Target isn't alone in developing merchandising solutions for the nascent connected home market. Home Depot and Lowe's are both actively creating products and displays to help shoppers. But it's early days, as they say in the start-up community, and likely to undergo many tests as the market develops.

For more:
- see this Target blog post