Sears is adding Alexa support to its Kenmore smart home appliances

Amazon’s Alexa assistant is now able to control an even wider range of home appliances. Smart appliances from Sears and its Kenmore brand are joining the list of hardware that can be used through voice commands to Amazon’s Echo lineup of speakers and other Alexa-enabled devices. GE and Whirlpool have already integrated similar support across their respective products, and now “the full line of Kenmore smart appliances” — air conditioners, refrigerators, and more — can be controlled with a new Alexa skill, Kenmore Smart.

Owners of connected Kenmore products can say commands like “Alexa, tell Kenmore Smart to set my air conditioner to 70 degrees” to make adjustments without having to walk over and do it the old fashioned way: with buttons. Or with the remote that came with your air condition that always gets misplaced.

Amazon will also begin selling Sears’ Kenmore products directly, which is a significant bit of good news (and a new sales channel) for the struggling department store chain. The company has acknowledged “substantial doubt” about its future prospects, according toBloomberg, after years of losses brought on by its flailing attempts to compete with retail competition — including Amazon’s giant e-commerce presence.

 [Source”timesofindia”]

Amazon’s latest assault wipes $12.5 billion off Home Depot, other appliance-seller stocks

Shares of Home Depot and Lowe’s were slammed Thursday, along with Whirlpool, after Amazon threatened to take on the appliance market in a much bigger way in a deal with Sears Holdings.

The market cap loss in Home Depot, Lowe’s, Whirlpool and Best Buy was about $12.5 billion by the end of the day, after falling to more than $13 billion. Amazon stock was up slightly, and Sears closed up about 10 percent.

But the early read from some analysts was that the sell-off has created a buying opportunity for home improvement retailers Home Depot and Lowe’s, which have proven themselves to be somewhat “Amazon-proof” and among the best performers in the sector. Best Buy, already battling Amazon in electronics, ended the day about 4 percent lower.

Sears, which has been losing share in appliance for years, saw its stock rally as much as 25 percent early Thursday, soon after it announced it would sell its Kenmore-branded appliances on Amazon.com. The products will be compatible with Amazon’s Alexa platform.

“The net takeout is it’s a potential negative for pricing and profitability for white box appliances,” said Bob Wetenhall at RBC. “I don’t think Alexa is the big deal here. … It’s more the fact that Amazon is going to sell Kenmore-branded appliances.”

“It’s probably less of a Whirlpool issue,” said Wetenhall, adding the price pressures would hit retailers. He said Whirlpool is the source for about half the appliances in the Kenmore brand, at one time a household standard and now a laggard. Wetenhall said it’s too early to know how the deal will affect the integration of appliances and online retailers, and there were few details offered.

“It’s hard to know,” said Wetenhall. “Does the guy come out to your house to install it? It’s a totally different thing.”

Analysts at Robert W. Baird said the selloff in Home Depot and Lowe’s was an overreaction. The nearly $7.5 billion market cap loss in Home Depot stock equals slightly more than the amount of its annual appliance sales. Lowe’s stock loss was a little more than 50 percent of its $7 billion in annual appliance sales.

Home Depot trucks sits parked in a parking lot at a Home Depot store in Daly City, California.

Home retailers take a hit after Amazon partners with Sears  19 Hours Ago | 03:26

The analysts said Home Depot and Lowe’s are by far the dominant retailers in the sector, and Amazon’s online sale of appliances has not harmed them so far. With the Sears deal, Amazon will now be selling a product line not available in Home Depot and Lowe’s stores.

Once a dominant force, Sears Holdings appliance sales account for about 15 percent of its total sales of $3.3 billion in fiscal 2016.

“Appliances have been a key driver of growth for both [Home Depot and Lowe’s] over the past few years … so we understand the concern the announcement creates. That said we view the [approximately] $12 billion market cap reduction in [Home Depot and Lowe’s] … to be an overreaction,” the Baird analysts wrote.

They said the two retailers have about half the $30 billion in annual sales in the appliance sector. They are also benefiting from a pocket of strength in home improvement sales, compared with the rest of the retail sector, which has been crushed by consumers shifting to online shopping and changing tastes.

Oppenheimer analysts said they see the deal as more of a lifeline for Kenmore than a threat to the home improvement retailers, which have made big inroads into appliance sales.

“We think a link up with [Amazon] should prove beneficial for the Kenmore brand. But, in our view, such a relationship is more likely to keep Kenmore alive, even as [Sears Holdings] continues to falter, than pump new life into the legacy brand,” wrote Oppenheimer analysts. “Over the past several years, [Home Depot] and [Lowe’s] put forth significant efforts to enhance their lineups of appliance products and advertise themselves as key sellers of the category to target consumers.”

Oppenheimer retail analyst Brian Nagel said in a phone interview that appliances are a difficult business and while Amazon gains a new foothold with the Sears deal, the logistics of the products are difficult in terms of installation and the need to ship quickly.

Over the years, Home Depot and Lowe’s, which sell an array of building and home improvement products, have taken a great deal of share from Sears and its Kenmore brands.

“Home Depot and Lowe’s are smart companies. They know what they’re doing,” he said. Nagel prefers Home Depot to Lowe’s. Home Depot stock is up 9 percent on the year, versus a 1 percent gain for Lowe’s.

Nagel said he’s recommending investors buy the stocks on weakness. “It’s frustrating for investors. News like this puts doubt in the minds of investors. You have these high multiples, and people are selling.”

Wetenhall said he sees the retailers more at risk because of the pricing element. Whirlpool also has its own Amazon deal, already announcing a smart Alexa product lineup. “We think it’s a negative, but it’s not a death blow to the head,” he said of Whirlpool. Whirlpool also makes Maytag products.

“Whenever Amazon gets into a category, you worry about pricing. Price matters, but it’s not a huge factor. There’s been a lot of innovation in appliances, and people are looking more at the capabilities of these products, rather than prices,” Nagel said.

The two home improvement companies have been able to withstand the assault from Amazon, which recently broadened its threat to the retail sector with its plans to buy grocer Whole Foods.

“I think there’s a nice moat around their businesses,” Nagel said. “Home Depot sells 50,000 products. There are likely products that sell online better than others. But Home Depot stores are known for great service.” He said the retailer has a strong goods stocking system and powerful private-label brands.

JPMorgan analysts have also said the home improvement companies are doing well defending themselves from Amazon. They have noted that 40 percent of Home Depot online orders are picked up in stores, and the professional market is 40 percent of Home Depot’s business and 30 percent of Lowe’s.

Appliances were 11 percent of Lowe’s total annual sales last year, and 8 percent of Home Depot’s fiscal 2016 sales.

Lowe’s stock was down 5.6 percent and Home Depot’s down more than 4 percent Thursday.

Market value loss for appliance sellers July 20

[Source”pcworld”]

Sharp trips to the future with a quartet of smart appliances

 

 

Sharp smart appliances

Sharp has entered the world of connected appliances with a new smart oven, fridge-freezer, washing machine and dishwasher. But the aim here is much more than just app control.

At its impressive Vestel City factory complex in Turkey, Sharp unveiled four smart appliances that it hopes will bring your home into the 21st century.

Related: Best kitchen gadgets

 

Sharp smart appliances 1The real headliner of the new range is the Love2Cook Smart Oven (£699), which has 150 recipes built in, ranging from Peking duck to paella, each with their own cooking programmes. Instructions are can be found within the companion app, then the oven sets the temperature and time – it even tells you the correct shelf to use. According to Sharp, these recipes have been compiled by top-class professional chefs using this exact oven, so they should be fairly idiot-proof.

Of course, the oven can also be controlled remotely via the app, so you can get it preheated before you’ve even got home from work. Maybe remotely start up the RoastPro Turnspit and use the app to check the temperature of your meat thanks to the RoastPro Digital MeatProbe. This isn’t the dark ages, after all.

The Love2Cook oven is available in stainless steel or black – no old-school white option for this modern smartie.

 

Sharp smart appliances 2Next up is the Smart Double French Door Fridge-Freezer (£2012), which enables in-app adjustment of the temperature within its fridge and freezer compartments. One or both of the freezer compartments can even be set as extra refrigeration space. You can also remotely set the fridge-freezer to holiday mode via the app, even if you’ve only already left for the airport.

 

Sharp smart appliances 3The Sharp Smart Washing Machine (£875) enables you to set a time delay or programme through the app, and has an 8kg capacity. It also has a super-speedy 12-minute cycle for emergency cleaning of up to 2kg of clothing for a night out or weekend away. Never find us being that disorganised, though. Ahem.

Other functions of the washing machine include 22 stain-fighting functions and an Allergy UK-approved AllergySmart programme for combating allergies caused by pollen, mould, pet hair, fungus and household dust mites as well as four different types of bacteria.

 

Sharp smart appliancesLast but not least is the Sharp Smart Dishwasher (£875), which has space for 14 place settings and is A+++ energy rated. As with the washing machine, it has a particularly fast wash option, with 18 minutes being its quickest – the fastest you’ll find for a four-place-setting cycle.

To boost drying time, the dishwasher’s AutoDoor function automatically opens the door – you probably guessed from the name, right? – to let out any excess steam after the cycle’s finished.

In addition to all this remote smart control, there’s a much more practical purpose for the net-connection of these appliances: servicing and maintenance. Hold up, it’s not as dull as it sounds. The moment these Sharp models sense anything not working the way it should, they ping an error code automatically to aftersales. That means you could be contacted by Sharp before knowing anything’s even wrong.

If the fault is customer-fixable, however – such as the fridge door being left open – a notification will just be sent to you through the app. Now that really is smart.

image: http://static.trustedreviews.com/94/00003f070/8ebc_orh616w616/sharp-smart-appliances-5.jpg

Sharp smart appliancesWhat’s more is that, having tried the app control for all of these appliances, we found it all very slick. All four are controllable through the same app, too.

Sharp is apparently working on integration for control from at least one of the most popular digital AIs. We wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon Alexa support wasn’t far off.

[Source”indianexpress”]

Great service at Bob Coccia’s Center for Appliances in Bayside

Great service at Bob Coccia’s Center for Appliances in Bayside 1

Bob Coccia’s Center for Appliances in Bayside is the very definition of a mom-and-pop store. Coccia is proud to keep it that way. He has been in the business long enough that he knows intuitively that giving the customer quality service is his top priority.

That’s why in 46 years his store has grown to 3,000 square feet.

“As an independent mom-and-pop type store, I feel like I can give the best service in our store,” Coccia said. “We’re capable of taking care of the customer in the proper and speedy manner.”

And his clients are pretty happy with his approach.

“Mama Mia!” customer Lindsey Harris of Flushing said on the store’s website, bobcocciasappliance.com. “Bob treated my family and me like we were real family … he comes through with great prices, dependable delivery and a great personal touch … Bob, you are one in a million! Thank you! — Lindsey.”

Coccia’s employees, which include his son, Bob Jr., don’t work on commission, so no particular brand is forced down the throat of an unassuming consumer. Instead he and his employees sell the knowledge of the appliance a customer needs. And they charge less for top-of-the-line products than their larger competitors. Just some of the big names whose products Coccia’s carries are GE, Bosch, Electrolux, KitchenAid and Whirlpool.

“You go to the large stores, you’re not dealing with expert help,” he said. “I know the good products, I know the bad products and I try to give the customer the best product at the lowest cost.”

Coccia has been in the appliance business his whole life. He started off with his father repairing appliances for dealers and manufacturers. He then moved on to selling “scratch and dent” appliances, those that have slight cosmetic damage but are in fine working condition, and are sold at lower rates.

He moved up from selling “scratch and dent” to new products after joining the Intercounty Appliance Corp., a buying cooperative in the northeast, which he said allows him to sell better products but at the same low cost.

“I felt I was giving the customer a better product at the same cost factor as scratch and dent,” he said. “It was a big difference.”

Coccia’s specialty is selling appliances as a package for one price. If a customer is remodeling a kitchen, for example, items such as a microwave, refrigerator and stove will be sold together. That allows for lower prices and gets the buyer rebates.

If kitchen appliances aren’t what you’re looking for, Coccia’s also has many other products including air conditioners, barbecues and high-definition televisions.”

Having so much experience in the business and attending two important trade shows a year, Coccia is always on top of new and improved products. When changes are made to existing products, it’s always an improvement, he said. And no one can fill the customer in better than he can.

If something is not in stock at the store, Coccia can always order it from his warehouse in Long Island. And when someone is unsure about what to buy, Coccia is always there to help.

“I don’t plan on retiring very soon. I’m not going anywhere,” he joked.

The store is located at 215-03 Horace Harding Blvd. and can be reached at (718) 224-4344. Hours are 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday, Sunday 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Faulty appliances can lead to big disaster 00:00 00:00

“They wanted you to save their kids before them,” says another witness.

It’s the nightmare that became reality in London after a massive fire in a residential high-rise building took the lives of at least 79 people.

As investigators worked to find the cause they narrowed it down to a faulty refrigerator.

10Investigates met up with Clearwater Fire Assistant Chief John Klinefelter, who says refrigerators can absolutely start a fire in your home.

“Some of the things you see with a refrigerator are faulty wiring in the back or wiring as fridges get older so you have wiring that wears away. What you can do is clean underneath it, cleaning where coils are. Make sure there’s not a huge dust build under there. Pull it out from time and time and wipe down back,” Klinefelter said.

Appliance fires are cause for a major safety concern.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that major appliances caused more than 150,000 residential fires nationwide in two years.

“The dishwasher can also be a problem too. Issue we see is with the heating element on bottom and plastic ware and Tupperware falling below. They can melt and start a fire,” Klinefelter said.

Other unexpected appliances Klinefelter says could be the match for a fire: stove, bathroom vent and your dryer.

“The biggest thing is the lint filter in the drier. People forget to clean it. You should empty it out after every load of laundry,” Klinefelter said.

While many times appliance fire are caused by human error, 10investigates has learned that dishwashers, fridges, ranges, and more are on recall lists.

So how do you find ‘out if your appliance has been recalled? A few years back the Consumer Product Safety Commission created a website for that reason.

 

[Source”timesofindia”]

The Best Amazon Prime Day Deals on Kitchen Appliances

Well, it’s Amazon Prime Day again, and we’re using it as the perfect excuse to make all of those upgrades we’ve been dreaming about.

The collection of deals, which is taking place all day on Tuesday, July 11 (with certain offers beginning at 9 p.m. ET on Monday) spans everything from homeware to office supplies to electronics. For those who love to cook, though, some of the best prices are in the kitchen department.

Below, we’ve rounded up some of the best deals you can get on cooking appliances for Amazon Prime Day. (And if you’re on a money-saving high, you can also score free Chick-fil-A on Tuesday for unrelated reasons.)

Black + Decker Mini Fridges (25% off)

AMAZON

Blendtec Blender (40% off)

 

AMAZON

Lenox Dinnerware and Flatware (20% off)

[Source”pcworld”]

Toshiba home appliances returning to China

TOKYO — Toshiba-brand home appliances will hit Chinese store shelves after a hiatus of more than a year, following an acquisition by Midea Group, the world’s largest producer of these goods.

Toshiba had sold its brand of home appliances in China until 2015, when slumping sales forced a retreat from the market. With Midea’s purchase of an 80.1% stake last year in Toshiba Lifestyle Products & Services, the white goods business of Toshiba, these products will now make a comeback.

Toshiba still owns a 19.9% stake in Toshiba Lifestyle.

As a first step, Toshiba Lifestyle and Midea will release jointly developed microwave ovens this month. Production is handled by the Japanese company. Refrigerators and other products may follow.

Midea will position Toshiba appliances as top-of-the-line products among its offerings. The microwave ovens likely will cost the equivalent of around 160,000 yen ($1,412). Similar products sold under the Midea brand focus on basic functions and carry low prices.

Based in the southern province of Guangdong, Midea has more than 2,200 stores throughout China and also sells goods wholesale to about 5,000 other electronics outlets, including those owned by Suning Commerce Group. Toshiba appliances will be sold through these stores as well as e-commerce channels, including Midea’s own online portal and Alibaba Group Holding’s Tmall Global platform.

Midea posted sales of 159 billion yuan ($23.3 billion) in 2016. Toshiba Lifestyle, which moved under Midea’s umbrella that June, contributed 7.52 billion yuan in the second half.

Toshiba Lifestyle has been expanding operations abroad, entering the Cambodian and Myanmar markets just last month. It seeks to turn a profit this year.

Under a tie-up formed in 2015, Toshiba had planned to cooperate with Chinese appliance manufacturer Skyworth in sales and production of white goods. The two sides now appear likely to dissolve the partnership.

[Source”indianexpress”]

GST impact: Prices of home appliances may go up by 1-2%

Consumer durables industry is expecting only a marginal price revision despite the category being placed under the highest tax slab of 28 per cent under GST, as players look forward to the festive season in the coming months.

The festive season accounts up to 35 per cent of the consumer durables sales.

“In the short-to mid-term, I see the fundamentals remaining the same. Though consumer durables industry is being taxed at 28 per cent, which is slightly more than what the previous tax structure, I don’t anticipate any major price increases in the coming months,” BSH Household Appliances MD Gunjan Srivastava told PTI.

Tax rate for the sector was around 25-27 per cent, which has been hiked to 28 per cent under GST.

“I expect the prices to remain constant at least in the initial period before people understand how much is the additional cost. But, that would take some time for people to accurately measure. We are also approaching the festival season, so the industry will like to moderate it,” he added.

Godrej Appliances business head Kamal Nandi expects prices to go up by 1-2 per cent which could impact demand in the short-run, but expects it to pick up during the festive season.

“Home appliances have become a necessity now with evolving consumer lifestyle and a lower tax slab would have made appliances more affordable in a low-penetrated market.

“With 28 per cent tax under the GST, we expect the consumer prices of home appliances to marginally go up by 1-2 per cent. This could have an impact on demand in the short-run,” he said.

“Normal monsoon and the resultant boost to the agricultural economy and hike in allowances to government employees will propel demand during the forthcoming festive season,” he added.

Panasonic India Chief Financial Officer Manish Gupta said they expect a revision in the prices of select category.

“We are expecting the primary sales to retailers from companies to pick up from the second week of July,” he said.

[Source”timesofindia”]

Samsung really wants your kitchen appliances to be smart

samsung-refrigerator-profileEnlarge Image

This Samsung refrigerator will include cameras so you can see the inside of the fridge from your phone.

Samsung

Samsung has placed a big bet that its customers want their large kitchen appliances to be connected to the internet. The company announced this week that all of the appliances in the brand’s next Chef Collection line will have Wi-Fi connectivity. That means you’ll be able to check in on and control your stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, cooktop or oven through an app on your iOS or Android device.

The Chef Collection appliances will be available in the fall. The company said it would release the prices of the products closer to the line’s release.

“Samsung has been listening to a new generation of state-of-the-art homeowners to understand their priorities to insure Chef Collection meets their needs and wants,” the company said in a statement. “This new home buyer is leading a busy life and looks to connected technology to make life more efficient and simple.”

Samsung has been one of the major manufacturers that has pushed for large kitchen appliances to be a significant part of a smart-home setup. The company recently released new models of its Family Hub refrigerator, the appliance with a tablet built into the door and cameras that give you a live shot of the inside of your refrigerator. And Samsung added Wi-Fi to its Flex-Duo range last year, which let you control your oven and check if you forgot to turn off a burner.

Other manufacturers have also gotten serious when it comes to bringing their large kitchen appliances into the Internet of Things. Companies like Whirlpool, GE and LG have added Wi-Fi connectivity to some of their products and partnered with platforms like Amazon Dash Replenishment Services, Amazon Alexa and Google Home to create automatic ordering of supplies and hands-free controls.

Features of the Chef Collection line

  • Bluetooth-enabled range hoods that automatically turn on with when a cooktop is in use and change fan speeds with a heat sensing feature.
  • A 42-inch 4-Door Flex refrigerator with a FlexZone compartment that can transition from fridge to freezer depending on your needs.
  • Wi-Fi-enabled built-in refrigerators will have a camera built in so you can see the contents of your fridge from your device.
  • Ovens with a Flex Duo insert that lets you divide your oven cavity into separate cooking zones.
  • [Source”timesofindia”]

Check out the best kitchen appliances you can buy for $5K

When it’s time to update your kitchen appliances, $5,000 can go a long way. At this price range, you can splurge a bit on your large appliances and get a few more extras on your products. With $5,000, you can peruse French-door or door-in-a-door refrigerators, slide-in ranges, induction cooktops, and dishwashers with roomy racks and a multitude of cleaning cycles, products that are hard to find if you have less money to play with.

(Only have $2,500 to spare on large kitchen appliances? We’ve got you covered.)

Here are the best refrigerators, ovens and dishwashers you can buy for a total of $5,000 or less:

Refrigerators

Forget the traditional top-freezer refrigerators you grew up with. With a $5,000 budget, you can look at fridges with different designs to accommodate your food storage needs.

The freezer on the Whirlpool WRB322DMBB is located below the refrigerator.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Whirlpool WRB322DMBB, $1,000

When we tested this $1,000 refrigerator, it had the best performance of any refrigerator that had come through the CNET appliances test lab. It might be plain to look at on the outside, but the interior excelled at keeping food cold.

The Samsung RH25H5611SR is a stainless-steel, side-by-side refrigerator.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Samsung RH25H5611SR, $1,400

This Food Showcase refrigerator features a door in a door, which means you can open the fridge’s front panel to expose in-door shelves without the need to open the entire door. You can find the Samsung RH25H5611SR for as little as $1,400, which makes it one of the least expensive fridges with the door in a door.

Stoves

A $5,000 kitchen appliance budget means you can start to look at slide-in stoves. These appliances don’t have a back panel (all the controls are in the front) and cost more than their freestanding counterparts. You can also consider induction cooktops for your upgrade.

kenmore-fsr95073-induction-range-product-photos-1.jpg
The Kenmore 95073 is one of the least expensive induction ranges we’ve tested.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Kenmore 95073, $1,300

Induction ranges like the Kenmore 95073 use electromagnetism to cook food. Usually, stoves with this type of cooktop can surpass $2,000. This $1,300 Kenmore is a less expensive option that still has all the safety and efficiency benefits of induction cooking.

The Electrolux EI30EF45QS is an electric, slide-in range.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Electrolux EI30EF45QS, $2,065

This slide-in electric range offers a great performance — it cooked foods quickly and evenly during our testing. And its $2,065 won’t eat up your entire appliance budget.

[Source”indianexpress”]