Lowe's knows its shoppers are increasingly looking to purchase smart home devices, and it wants to help.
On Tuesday, the home improvement retailer unveiled plans to launch so-called stores within its stores, in a partnership with b8ta, to sell and educate shoppers on smart home products.
With the software retailer, Lowe's will set up centers at 70 locations nationwide, where various tech gadgets will be sold aside knowledgeable customer service representatives.
"Consumers aspire to live a connected life and crave solutions that make this possible," Ruth Crowley, vice president of customer experience design at Lowe's, said in a statement.
"Smart home products simplify life – but the technology can sometimes be confusing or intimidating," she added. "So, we developed Smart Home powered by b8ta to emulate a 'lab-like' atmosphere that empowers customers to make informed decisions."
Lowe's is allowing its shoppers to learn about and try certain smart home technology before making a purchase.
The mini stores will feature more than 60 smart home products, sold from brands such as Google, Sonos, Nest, Samsung and Ring. The items on sale will include thermostats, cameras, speakers and security systems.
In addition to the 70 Lowe's stores getting a complete smart home outfit, 1,000 Lowe's locations will launch smart home displays ahead of Black Friday and the holiday shopping season.
Lowe's website has also been updated to speak to the b8ta collaboration, and to offer smart home product education, tips and tricks.
As far as retailers go, Lowe's has fared better than many in the industry this year, having watched its shares climb roughly 10 percent in 2017. The S&P 500 Retail ETF (XRT), for comparison, has fallen 11 percent over the same period.
North Carolina-based Lowe's has been experimenting with new technology and ways to excite customers for years, through its Innovation Labs team. Its 70 mini smart home stores are the latest example of that.
Just earlier this year, Lowe's rolled out a virtual realty experience that offers do-it-yourself assistance through tutorials inside Lowe's Holoroom. Then, in September, Lowe's launched two new augmented reality apps — one for measuring an object, or distance, within the phone's camera view, and one for viewing images of furnishings, at scale, within a user's own home.
"From a competitive position, we believe LOW is at lower risk from e-commerce than most other retailers in the near term, and has the scale to make many of the necessary investments for future growth," KeyBanc analyst Bradley Thomas wrote in a Monday note to clients.
Thomas' firm has initiated coverage on Lowe's stock, with an overweight rating and a $98 price target. Lowe's shares were last trading around $78 apiece.
"Essentially all physical retailers are facing a growing threat from e-commerce and Amazon," Thomas added. "The home improvement sector has historically exhibited less risk from e-commerce."