DayBreaker

Tech retailer b8ta partners with Google

BY Marianne Wilson

Consumers will soon be able to test Google’s smart home products before they buy them.

Google is partnering with b8ta to open interactive, home-like vignettes in b8ta flagship stores in Houston; San Francisco; Austin, Texas; Corte Madera, Calif.; Tysons Corner, Va. The vignettes will also be rolled out in two upcoming b8ta locations due to open later this year, at The Mall at Short Hills, Short Hills, N.J., and Scottsdale, Arizona.

The stores will feature special demos of Google’s Home products placed in vignettes modeled after various rooms found in any home – from a living room to a kitchen – to allow shoppers to test different Google Assistant commands and see how the products work in a relatable environment.

“We are pleased that Google has chosen b8ta as an experiential retail partner,” said Vibhu Norby, CEO of b8ta. “With our history of demonstrating connected devices to millions of customers, and our singular focus as a retailer, on teaching and not selling, we believe we’ve created the ideal environment for learning about Google’s Home products,” said Vibhu Norby, CEO of b8ta.”

This year has proved a busy one for b8ta. In April, it launched an initiative, called Built by b8ta, to help emerging brands open stores with minimal effort using its “retail-as-a-service” model. Under the arrangement, b8ta takes care of everything, from landlord negotiations and store set-up to providing a state-of-the-art, data-driven technology platform.

And in June, Macy’s announced it had taken a minority stake in the company and would leverage b8ta’s software platform to expand The Market @ Macy’s, pop-up shop marketplace format.

B8ta, founded in 2015 by a group of Nest alumns, has 11 freestanding locations. The stores give consumers a hands-on demonstration of cutting-edge tech products, many from emerging brands. The business model is unusual: Instead of earning revenue from product sales, b8ta leases space in its stores to the product makers, who pay a monthly subscription fee to b8ta.

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