At the first of its four yearly Expos, held May 3 in the Philadelphia suburb of Trevose, Pa., near its national headquarters, major appliance and consumer electronics distributor Almo set the template for its next three 2011 regional shows, offering the 300 dealers in attendance an agenda filled with informational and training sessions. “This event is a buying show, but it’s also all about education,” said Warren Chaiken, president and COO.
“It’s an opportunity to focus on new products and help our dealers to understand and get comfortable with them. It’s also a chance to take note of the new trends we’ve recognized and get dealers up to speed,” Chaiken added, citing as an example social media as a seminal trend that merited a special “lunch and learn” session during the Expo. “Circulars and TV are still good ways of outreach, but this is a turning point with how people communicate and while our dealers might not see an ROI immediately, it will eventually mean footsteps in the door. It’s a long-term play. If you just do Groupon coupons, you will only get short-term results.”
Trainings also touched on tablet computers in line with the recent market influx of brands. “There is an element of confusion with tablets at this point,” said Chaiken, “so we felt we should have a seminar teaching dealers why they should have tablets and how to manage customer expectations about them.”
Chaiken said the show also marked the first major event during Almo’s 65th anniversary celebration. “We’re honoring long-term vendors and customers here,” he said, “and it’s also an internal celebration. There are three legs to the stool that hold our company together: our vendors, our customers and our secret sauce – our employees. We will specially recognize them all.”
Examples of the hottest categories were on display from 42 vendors, and Chaiken said that dealer support of these showroom floor eye-catchers would be crucial to their second-half success. They included connected TVs with 3D capability, tablet computers, high-efficiency top-load washers, and “smart appliances” like Samsung’s Wi-Fi refrigerator, due out in June, which can “Play Pandora, upload pictures, show a calendar and even display dealer information,” Chaiken explained. “With the newest products, it’s not just about any premiums dealers can make; it’s about getting new clients in the door.”