According to an article in Recode, Amazon has been hiring installation and repair experts who will be able to offer free consultations and product installations for Alexa and other smart home gadgets. For a fee, Amazon will set up these products inside customers homes.
To date, this has already been introduced in seven markets with the aim of helping customers to set up a smart home that includes devices such as lighting and heating that can be controlled via apps or more recently through voice recognition. Currently, Amazon already has third parties in place who can offer services such as plumbing and TV mounting but it seems it considers smart home devices important enough to build an in-house group of experts.
Smart home devices are one of the fastest growing sectors within the consumer electronics market but many users find them awkward to set up and to fully integrate with each other. This is lead to higher than normal rates of returns and the article points out that Amazon is probably hoping that these in-house services will reduce this number. Additionally, voice recognition is one of the most prominent features of Alexa which is the virtual assistant built into Eco gadgets. Providing better customer education through having an in-house installation team could help improve uptake of these gadgets.
Apparently, Amazon is charging $99 for installation services although setting up multiple devices that take more than an hour may cost more. In cities where this service is available, shoppers can book their installation during the checkout process. Amazon also has 45-minute smart home consultations for Alexa where an expert will demo compatible gadgets, answer questions and create a personalized shopping list.
At the moment, this service is available in Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego, Portland, Los Angeles, Orange County, California and San Jose. The article points out that this most recent move seems to show that Amazon recognizes the value of bringing the customer experience within the virtual world into the physical world. However, Best Buy already offers free smart home consultations and its in-home installations are similarly priced. It recently announced it would be offering demos and tutorials for Alexa and Google Home in 700 stores.