Amazon takes on Geek Squad with new service

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11 July, 2017

It's worth noting that Amazon already has a third-party marketplace on its website offering home services like device installation, but this new initiative seems like a push to get users to start thinking about the Echo as central to an Amazon ecosystem that now includes brick-and-mortar bookstores and grocery stores.

But maybe not for long. In addition to the installations, Amazon is also offering free 45-minute Alexa Smart Home Consultations, in which Amazon's experts demo popular products and answer consumer questions.

For the consultation, an Amazon employee will come to your home to help you set up your smart home, ask you what your needs are, and recommend things to buy to make those goals a reality. Now, according to reporting from Recode, Amazon will be a major competitor in the space. Amazon won't set up just any device, but it handles some of the common brands: Philips Hue lights, Ecobee thermostats, Eero WiFi routers and Ring doorbells are some of the eligible gadgets.

In-home consultations are available through the company's website and are available in seven cities: Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Jose, and Orange County, California. The move could cut down on returns, too - smart home devices can be intimidating if you're a novice, and this might convince some newcomers to stick with their products. The installation fees run are about $99. Best Buy posted a surprise gain in same-store sales - a closely watched measure - after laptops and Nintendo Co.'s Switch game helped fuel growth.

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That sort of in-home service and education is traditionally dominated by Best Buy's Geek Squad unit, which also offers computer and gadget fix services in stores.

Best Buy doesn't disclose how much revenue its Geek Squad service generates per quarter, but the ability to teach consumers to use new electronics is going to become more and more important as the capabilities of gadgets increase. According to Best Buy's annual report, its services business is comprised of consultation, design, delivery, installation, set-up, protection plans, repair, technical support and educational classes.

Best Buy shares dropped more than 7% late Monday morning following news of the service.


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