Lowe’s selling Iris in Verizon Wireless stores

Home improvement retailer also will expand sales of its new home automation/home security product in its own stores this year
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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

MOOREVILLE, N.C.—In a new partnership, home improvement retailer Lowe’s has recently started offering Iris, its new home automation/home security product, in Verizon Wireless stores in 10 Eastern and Southern states.

Lowe’s also plans by the end of the year to dramatically expand the number of its own stores that sell Iris—from 500 stores currently to all of its approximately 1,700 retail stores nationwide, according to Kevin Meagher, Lowe’s VP of Smart Home.

Lowe’s, which is based here, launched Iris, its do-it-yourself, self-monitored, cloud-based service, last summer. 

“It’s been very well received by the markets and by the analysts and we’ve have some great feedback, and we’re happy enough with progress to date to expand it,” Meagher told Security Systems News. “We’re also looking at other channels, and you’ve seen the evidence of that with the work we’re doing with Verizon.”

Verizon in November announced a partnership with Lowe’s that enables Iris customers to use Verizon's wireless network for remote monitoring and management of their homes.

Then, on Feb. 21, Verizon Wireless announced that Iris could be purchased at 118 Verizon Wireless retail stores in Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Vermont.

David Samberg, a public relations manager with Basking Ridge, N.J.-based Verizon Wireless, told SSN that those stores are just the start. “We will see how it does and then will expand,” he said.

Verizon offers Home Monitoring and Control Service, its own DIY home automation/home security offering that it launched in 2011. Doesn’t the sale of Iris compete with that? Samberg told SSN it’s all about offering customers variety.

He noted that Verizon Wireless sells all sorts of products in its stores “that give customers the ability to monitor their home or control lights.” Samberg said those include the Belkin WeMo home automation switch, a variety of cameras and now Iris.

“We want to sell these accessories, these offerings, in our stores as well, because when people walk in, they look for these things, so we want to have choice,” he explained.

Meagher said Lowe’s benefits too.

“One of the opportunities here is through partnerships,” he said. He noted that Verizon sells tablets and phones that customers can use remotely to control their homes, but “it doesn’t pay for them to go off and start creating all these new devices and products and services.” Instead, Meagher said, they “can partner with somebody like ourselves. We don’t make mobile phone handsets, we don’t sell mobile phone handsets, but our customers need those things to be able to get the maximum benefit from the technology we’re taking to market, so it’s a good partnership for those reasons.”

Meagher was a keynote speaker at the Smart Energy Summit, held in late February in San Antonio. The summit was hosted by Parks Associates, a market research company, and was titled “Engaging the Consumer.”

He told SSN his message focused on the interactivity of devices in the smart home and how Lowe’s is working to innovate and deliver new products and services to leverage that growing market.

Iris is “really at the heart of our business model,” Meagher said. He said consumers want to be able to do such things as control their door locks and thermostats remotely but through one app, one user interface, not multiple ones.

He said Lowe’s enables consumers to do that because it works with the many vendors it buys from to make sure that the devices they provide are compatible with Iris.

“We work with open standards so we’re not asking them to make anything unique to Lowe’s. It’s just if they want to sell through Lowe’s they must use the more common standards that are out there for home automation, and those are ZigBee, Z-Wave and Wi-Fi,” Meagher explained. “As long as they do that, we then give the device that they sell through Lowe’s the Iris mark. We give them the ability to carry a small logo that means to the consumer that if they buy that item, it will work with Iris and it will work with everything else they’ve already bought, and that’s what unique about our plans and our strategy.”

For example, he said, “Let’s say a Honeywell thermostat can talk with a Schlage door lock, can talk with the Iris home monitoring system, can talk with the Hunter ceiling fan, that type of mix. And that’s because they’re all working in the same ecosystem.”