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Lowe’s knows there’s no place like home

BY Dan Berthiaume

On the heels of adding new security features to its Iris connected home device, Lowe’s is further expanding its presence in the connected home market.

Lowe’s is launching a national partnership with the Nucleus connected home device. Nucleus combines the family phone, intercom, video chat and security alerts in one device. With this partnership, Lowe's will accept pre-orders for Nucleus devices beginning January 2016. The product will be for sale in more than 1,000 Lowe’s stores in summer 2016 and also online, including pre-orders, on Lowes.com.

In addition to pursuing integration with the Iris by Lowe's smart home platform, Nucleus supports integrations with other connected home platforms including Nest, SmartThings, iControl and Insteon.

According to the 2015 Smart Home Survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Iris, home improvement stores (either in-store or online) were rated the number one place Americans are most likely to buy connected home systems.

"We are committed to offering our customers smart home products that combine ease-of-use with breakthrough technical capabilities," said Mick Koster, VP and general manager of Iris Home Systems. "Consumers are seeking connected home products that deliver security and automation in engaging ways. Nucleus helps further Iris' mission to have customers to have deeper relationships with their homes by offering the ability to further protect their home, while staying connected to their families."

Lowe’s is obviously convinced connected home technology will become a major consumer product category. Since launching Iris in 2012, Lowe’s tried to make it more accessible with moves such as joining the ZigBee Alliance Internet of Things (IoT) standards body, as well as adding security and even a holiday Santa tracking feature.

By selling the Nucleus device, Lowe’s is hedging its bets against being stuck with the equivalent of Betamax in the still-developing connected home market.

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Online retailers have happy New Year

BY Dan Berthiaume

All was not quiet on New Year’s Day for online retailers and their customers.

According to Verizon Retail Index data, broadband traffic attributed to e-commerce shopping activity reached new heights over the New Year’s holiday weekend (Jan. 1-3). E-commerce traffic posted highs of 28%, 32% and 36% respectively above average daily levels on those three days – a similar pattern to the prior year. Notably, Sunday posted the highest activity of the season to date which is consistent with a trend identified by Verizon during the 2014 season.

However, mobile traffic attributed to m-commerce was lower (98%, 99% and 97% of normal levels) than usual over the holiday weekend. Year-over-year, overall traffic was higher during the same period in 2014.

“As expected, retailers rang in the new year with a bang as they rallied to the finish line to move merchandise including excess winter inventory,” said Michele Dupré, group VP of retail, hospitality and distribution for Verizon Enterprise Solutions. “Retailers enticed consumers with time-bound promotions to create a sense of urgency and consumers with extra time on their hands due to the long holiday weekend appeared to respond in droves.”

Dupré believes these findings indicate there is still time to capture wallet share through Saturday, Jan. 9 as the season begins to wind down. In addition, mobile engagement will be key as many consumers return to work.

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Vans shows fancy footwork on customer engagement

BY CSA STAFF

VF Corp.’s footwear, apparel and accessories brand Vans is capitalizing on one of the hottest trends in retail at its 450 stores and online.

The lifestyle brand associated with action sports is tapping into the personalization trends with a national contest designed to resonate with its core customer segment. The Vans Custom Culture competition is designed to give high school students a platform to embrace creative expression while joining a movement to support arts education. Through Feb. 12, high school art teachers can register their school to compete against thousands of other students, creating custom designs using blank Vans shoes as a canvas. Those who register are provided four pairs of blank Vans shoes on which to create designs that represent the four themes of the Vans "Off The Wall" lifestyle including action sports, arts, music and local flavor. The winnings submission receives a $50,000 donation.

"An arts education inspires creative expression and helps prepare students for what's next, which is why Vans believes that today's youth and future generations deserve the Right to Art," said Sarah Crockett, VP of global consumer marketing, Vans. "In the last six years, Vans Custom Culture has inspired hundreds of thousands of U.S. art students to take a stand for arts education and Vans has donated over $500,000 to support arts education."

Vans Custom Culture was founded with the goal of raising awareness of diminishing arts education budgets across the country and the program has grown rapidly since 2010 with only 325 schools participating in the inaugural year. During the 2015 competition nearly 3,000 schools stood alongside Vans to support arts education for all and even more are expected to appeal for their #RightToArt in 2016.

An internal judging panel, including Vans employees, will assist in selecting the top 50 schools to be featured as semi-finalists. Those 50 schools will then be posted online for a public vote on the Vans Custom Culture website from April 27 – May 11, determining the top five schools. The top five finalists will get the opportunity to travel to Los Angeles to showcase their designs at an event to a panel of noted judges.

The overall winners will receive $50,000, but Vans also plans to donate $4,000 each to the four runner-up schools, plus an extra $50,000 to non-profit partner, Americans for the Arts, the nation's leading organization for advancing the arts and art education.

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