b8ta, Palo Alto
516 Bryant St, Palo Alto, CA 94301
Deep in the technophile heartland of Palo Alto, the newly opened b8ta is bringing a truly Silicon Valley solution to gadget shopping.
The store takes the much-maligned ‘showrooming’ trend and embraces it – or disrupts it, as Valley parlance goes. b8ta’s elevator pitch would be something like ‘Amazon in the real world’.
The brainchild of four Nest alums, the Apple-esque store displays the latest tech dreamed up by Stanford and MIT grads: everything from smart light bulbs to sleep quality trackers.
Launched by ex-Nest alums, new-concept retailer b8ta was founded with the promise of ‘no packaging – just products’.
But if its products are cutting edge, b8ta’s business model is even more so. Brands apply to be considered for display, and then pay a monthly subscription to lease space in the store to show off their wares. Only the most promising make the cut.
The result is a curated selection of newly released products aimed at the connected home, Internet-of-Things crowd. Gadgets nestle on white podiums alongside iPads featuring in-store pricing details – as well as pricing from competing eCommerce vendors, from which customers are welcome to purchase.
Everything on display is unboxed, allowing customers to pick items up and demo them in-store. And to make the high-tech nature of the products more accessible, store staff – known as b8ta Testers – are at hand to help customers explore items ranging from electric bicycles to high-tech wearables.
It’s a perfect setting for brands to ‘soft launch’ their products. Real-time analytics software monitors customer interest and engagement – and customers can see how that must-have drone flies before taking it home.