One of the most natural places for a payment facilitator is within a do-it-yourself home improvement chain. The chains already attract plumbers, electricians, masons and every other kind of contractor, almost all of whom have to sell their services—in effect, reselling that chain’s products in something akin to a value-added reseller (VAR)—to consumers. Most importantly, those consumers want convenient ways to pay, which is rarely something contractors offer—but the home improvement chains but are interacting with does.
Home Depot is already toying with this model, but a recent announcement from Lowe’s makes this PF model almost irresistible. (To be clear, neither Home Depot nor Lowe’s—nor, for that matter, Ace Hardware, True Value, Sears or any of the other DIY chains—has officially announced any PF programs.)
What Lowe’s has done is called the Holoroom and it’s an in-store 3-D virtual reality system. What makes this interesting from a PF perspective is it the ideal environment for a contractor and consumer to meet, with the retailer’s physical space. The consumer gets something as value, as does the contractor.
Instead of waiting for the room to be finished and for the consumer to only then discover that the appliances look horrible when they are next to each other, it allows that discovery to happen before items are purchased.
And the contractor can then make that purchase, with the retailer in the background as a trusted partner—aka a payment facilitator—that both the consumer and contractor are comfortable with.
Chain Store Age did a nice piece exploring the technology behind the Holoroom.
“Holoroom has evolved from a single-platform augmented reality solution to a virtual reality design and visualization tool that leverages Oculus Rift optic technology in stores and Google Cardboard viewers that consumers can take home,” the story noted. “Lowe’s Innovation Labs and Google collaborated to create a shareable Holoroom experience that combines YouTube’s 360-degree video capabilities with Google Cardboard to enable customers to view and share their design ideas at will.”