Target Open House: A Retail Experiment

Target Open House: A Retail Experiment

Target spokesman Eddie Baeb calls it “part retail store, part learning lab, part meeting space.”

Target is experimenting with a new, more experiential form of retail with the launch of its “Open House” concept. Located in San Francisco, it looks like a home from the future that operates as a state-of-the-art gadget gallery.
 
The living room at Open House, for instance, simulates a home arrival where the connected door locks trigger the lights on, the thermostat to its ideal temperature, music buzzing through the speakers and a monitor to alert you the plants need watering.
 
“Part of Target’s unique position in this market is that we have products across all aspects of your life,” David Newman, director of enterprise growth initiatives and head of the Target Technology Innovation Center, said in a Target video. “We don’t believe that we can predict the future and figure out where to go strategically by sitting around a conference table.”
 
Now that everything from baby monitors to doorbells are becoming modernized with some type of Internet tie-in, a trend known as the Internet of Things has been evolving. More and more products are utilizing household Wi-Fi, creating a digital stratosphere that is opening doors for device interconnectivity.
 
“Putting a house in the space, we felt, was the most relatable and welcoming way to introduce these products,” said Todd Waterbury, chief creative officer of Target, in a statement. “What we’re trying to do is humanize and personalize the benefits of these products as well as show them working in concert.”
 
Going Beyond the Consumer
Target said its Open House concept will be a gateway for customers to better understand the benefits and future potential of this market. However, Open House isn’t only targeting consumers. To engage product creators in Silicon Valley, Target is also holding event meet-ups and product demos in its space. Every Thursday night, Open House will close its doors at 5 p.m. to invite in the connected home community and spur dialogue and share ideas.
“The original idea for Open House came to be by talking to startups who were a little frustrated that products weren’t fully understood by simply relying on packaging design,” said Patricia Adler, experience design manager for Target, in a video.

Open House’s 3,500 square-foot containment displays 35 household devices ranging from $15 to $250. (About one-third of the products are available for sale at Target stores or on its website.) More than 20 companies, including General Electric and Fitbit, partnered with Target in curating and constructing Open House.
 
Expansion plans of the concept to other cities have not yet been made. Target spokesman Eddie Baeb added that “one goal of [Open House] is to glean insights about how to display and showcase connected home products,” while these observations could later be incorporated into Target’s nearly 1,800 stores.
 
Target revenues this year have bumped up slightly from its 2014 comparison. The Minneapolis-based retailer made approximately $300 million more in Q2 than a year ago, and experts anticipate a similar boost of sales to continue through 2015. 

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