While Kickstarter is a great place to start selling products online, and Amazon is a good next step, you’ll often see hardware companies begin shipping their products to local retailers like Best Buy.
There’s a good reason for that — online commerce may be increasingly eating away at shopping offline, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t spending a ton of money at big box retailers. And it’s also why Hello, the makers of a sleep tracker called Sense, will be following the same route. This fall, the company is selling its sleep tracker in Best Buy and Target. “Both are clearly two of the strongest, largest, and most relevant retailers for our target market,” CEO James Proud said.
Landing in those stores will also come ahead of the important holiday shopping season in the next couple of months. The sleep trackers will have demo displays at those stores and will be available in all major metro areas and many local ones, he said. Rather than getting someone to arrive at a website or through Amazon through an online acquisition strategy, the trick will be making the product look and feel appealing for someone walking through a store.
Sense started as a Kickstarter project and began shipping last year, in addition being offered on Amazon as of last November. It consists of a small ball that sits on a nightstand or nearby a bed, and a pill-shaped device that fits into the pillow. The pair combine to track things like your movement at night, the quality of the air, sound, and others in order to ascribe a “score” and give recommendations to how you should improve your sleep. Sense, too, is also in a constant evolving state. Earlier this year, the company released a small firmware update that ended up effectively turning the bedside ball into a noise generator.
All these updates are necessary heading into the holiday quarter — where sales generally spike and the performance of a product can make or break a company, giving it enough cash to continue operating and growing. Hello also has to ensure that it’s able to continue making enough trackers in order to not only meet shipment demands for stores, but also its online demand.
“That’s always the age-old question around Christmas,” Proud said. “We’ll be continuing to do whatever we can to ensure supply can keep up with demand.”
For now, Walmart — the largest retailer — isn’t going to be on the table. But then again, rolling out a hardware product in big-box retailers will require some learning. For example, certain metro areas may be more likely to pick up some new piece of technology like Sense than others, so the company needs to figure out the right number of units to ship and where so they aren’t sitting around on a shelf unsold.
Hello has raised $40 million total, including a $30 million financing round last year led by Temasek that valued the company between $250 million and $300 million. Hello raised $2.4 million in its Kickstarter campaign prior to launching.