Netgear has dipped its toes into the retail market with the launch of a co-branded store with electronics retailer B8ta at a prime location at the Santana Row luxury outdoor mall in San Jose, California.
The new concept store opening today is the first in the networking company’s 20-year history, inspired in part by the stores of other product makers, such as Apple. The store is more like a showroom, which is the kind of experience-focused retail that B8ta is creating to add more excitement for shoppers, said Phillip Raub, cofounder and chief marketing officer at B8ta, in an interview with VentureBeat.
“This is the first time we partnered with a brand where they have a lot of co-branding in the store,” Raub said.
Netgear products take up about half the space in the store, which speaks to its transformation from a simple router and switch maker to the consumer tech product company it is today.
The store features Netgear’s Arlo Pro 2 wireless home security cameras, which are part of a family that has grabbed the No. 1 position in web-connected security cameras in the U.S. Netgear is also showing off its Orbi Wi-Fi extenders and its Nighthawk gaming routers, said Heidi Cormack, the company’s senior vice president of global marketing, in an interview.
Soon, Netgear will launch a smart outdoor security light, as well.
If there’s any place where this kind of gear will go over well, it’s in Silicon Valley.
Cormack said Netgear started looking at the concept a year ago, after it had success with other “store within a store” retail concepts.
“We thought, ‘Why not? It’s right in the heart of our home in Silicon Valley’,” Cormack said. “The idea is to showcase our products and the latest in technology for today’s connected home.”
Cormack said consumers can ask questions that help them move further along in the buying process.
“Getting hands-on with technology is more relevant than it ever has been,” she said.
The products are on display at the swanky outdoor mall, which also features an Amazon bookstore next door and a Tesla electric car showroom. Santana Row is as fancy as it gets in Silicon Valley, with 50 shops and 30 restaurants.
Raub said B8ta stores rotate products, bringing in perhaps 15 new items a month to supplement the consistent sellers. Some of the products are kind of experimental, like an internet-connected clothes iron and a gadget that shoots a ball in the air so your dog can fetch it. In fact, many of the products are focused on the internet of things (IoT), or making everyday objects smart and connected.
“Those kinds of products draw customers into the store,” Raub said.
The model is retail-as-a-service, where product makers can subscribe to a shelf space to show off their latest gear in a showroom experience. Even if the store doesn’t sell a ton of products, it could also let shoppers get a hands-on experience with something they will order online later. In that way, B8ta sees itself as the future of shopping.
“Even if a sale doesn’t come through B8ta, the brands may see a lift in the markets where we have a presence,” Raub said.
B8ta now has nine stores, all built in the last couple of years.