Retail competition widens in smart-home arena

The connected home space is getting crowded with Staples Connect the newest platform looking to simplify peoples’ live by putting them in constant contact with their home or business. 

Staples plans to roll out its Staples Connect home automation platform to 500 stores and will offer lower prices on the Connect Hub and feature new wearable products and support from some big technology names. Staples Connect was introduced in the fall of 2013 in select stores and online as a home an office automation platform, putting the company in competition with Google’s Nest, Lowe’s Iris system and Home Depot’s new Wink platform arriving in stores July 7. Staples Connect system included an app developed by Zonoff, a universal hub from Linksys and other devices that could talk to one another to control lighting, climate control and safety systems in a home or a business.

"Staples Connect offers the best-in-class home and office automation solution, with the widest array of product and services from the most trusted brands," said Mike Edwards, Staples EVP of merchandising. “Our in-store expansion shows that Staples is committed to providing our customers the newest tech offerings and innovations, like Staples Connect, so they can make more happen in their business and at home." 

The in-store displays being added to 500 locations will help call greater attention to a product assortment that previously was available online and via in-store kiosks and featured items from 35 hardware partners. Some of the brand names include those shoppers are more accustomed to finding in a home center. For example, Staples offers products from Lutron, Philips, Honeywell, First Alert, Yale, Kwikset, Schlage, Leviton, Cooper, GE, D-Link and Radio Thermostat. The company has also added wearable technology products to its assortment such as smart watches, fitness trackers and cameras from brands such as Samsung, Polar and Jawbone.

To get shoppers started with the automation platform, Staples has reduced the price of the Hub from the launch price of $99 and now offers two models. The original model from Linksys has been reduced to $49.99 and a new hub manufactured by D-Link will sell for $79.99. The D-Link hub offers new capabilities such as support for ZigBee and Bluetooth Low Energy.

"The Connected Home Hub is a powerful piece of networking hardware working seamlessly with the Staples Connect app for a stellar user experience enabling control over a wide variety of devices." said Albert Ling, EVP of sales and marketing at D-Link Systems.

Powered by software from smart home technology company Zonoff, Staples Connect has the most supported App platforms in the industry, according to Staples. With apps currently available on native iPad, iPhone and Android and web browsers via HTML5, the Staples Connect App is now also available for Windows 8 and will soon be available on Samsung Smart TV's. 

"Every day consumers are using their Windows 8 devices to engage with their favorite apps and games in new and unique ways," said Todd Brix, general manager of Microsoft’s Windows apps and Store. “Staples is offering consumers the ability to manage their home or office environment from their tablets, laptops and PC's with a new app for Windows 8.1."