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6.12.19 – SIW –

Residential security integrators face more competition, this time from evolved big-box retailers

In an age where big-box and brick-and-mortar retailers are dying by the dozen, the ones who are surviving and thriving are the ones who reinvent themselves – effectively putting their own unique spin on the retail experience, which often includes moving away from traditional retail entirely.

With entertainment product sales declining, Best Buy has expanded its offerings; and while most would have bet against it a few years ago, the retailer is thriving and acquiring to accomplish the feat. What may worry some of our readers is that they are making progress partly based on product and service offerings that rival those of residential security integrators.

Most of us know of Best Buy’s failed attempt to partner with Vivint – if not, read about the dissolution of the relationship at www.securityinfowatch.com/12426735. Yes, Best Buy still offers a variety of smart home and DIY security products, led by SimpliSafe and Amazon’s Ring, along with Arlo, Google, Nest and Philips products; however, what may have been lost in the Vivint news was Best Buy’s acquisition of GreatCall – an acquisition that signaled the company’s foray into the home healthcare space.

It might have been perceived that GreatCall was Best Buy’s attempt at competing with Target. After all, GreatCall specializes in cellular phones with “bigger buttons, larger screens and simpler menus” targeting the senior population, which seems to be a direct competitor to Consumer Cellular, which partnered with Target back in 2014. But GreatCall also makes PERS devices; in fact, it just introduced a new mobile PERS (mPERS) unit, “lively mobile,” which promises fast call response times, reliable coverage and enhanced GPS technology to confirm a user’s location.

To complement the GreatCall products, Best Buy struck again in late May, announcing its acquisition of Critical Signal Technologies (CST), whose services include live monitoring of PERS systems. With both GreatCall and CST, Best Buy has tapped into more than a million potential PERS customers; and thus, it is clear that one of the pillars of Best Buy’s – for lack of a better term, “Change or Die” strategy (thanks, Alan Deutschman) – is to provide health-based live monitoring services.

“Our Best Buy 2020 strategy continues to make progress…advancing our commercial monitoring service with a focus on aging seniors,” Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly said during a recent earnings call. “We will be opening a third GreatCall caring center in October…(to) provide 24/7 technical phone support, concierge services and urgent response services to customers. The acquisition of CST will help facilitate our access to and penetration of the commercial market.”

Like many powerful companies before it, Best Buy has noticed and understood the value of providing many of the same services that security integrators do. As Best Buy continues to gain a foothold in the aging-in-place and PERS monitoring space, it isn’t a giant leap to see the company leverage its growing monitoring capabilities into the security space…and it’s not hard to picture the Geek Squad installing or repairing security devices, is it?

Welcome to residential services in 2019 – where new competition seems to be coming around every corner, and residential security integrators must defend from every angle.

Paul Rothman is Editor-in-Chief of Security Business magazine. Email him your comments and questions at prothman@securitybusinessmag.com. Access the current issue, full archives and apply for a free subscription at www.securitybusinessmag.com.