Retail Excellence : BrandSmart: Taking Back the CE IndustryAugust 8, 2012
BrandsMart has also improved its customer service by making sure a representative answers every comment or complaint the company receives with an email or phone call. “The customers are shocked when they get a call back to help solve their problem,” Perlman said. “Absolutely shocked.”
That focus on service and customer education is needed to help save a broken CE industry, Perlman and many others say. The industry has failed to properly educate consumers about new technologies, and has essentially ceded the business to Apple.
“When you have a problem or a question with an Apple product, you take it to any Apple Store and they’ll show you how to use it, and the consumer ends up using all of the features,” he said. “Historically, in this industry, we’ve been our own worst enemies. We come out with all of these great products, but the consumer doesn’t use the features. We’ve basically handed Apple our customers by not going into people’s home and setting up the product and showing them how good they are.”
To help customers get a better understanding of particular products—and to make its larger spaces more interesting—BrandsMart established vendor-sponsored mini-stores (Bose and Sony so far) in its biggest locations. “The results have been phenomenal,” he said. “Sales in those categoires are through the roof.” Perlman plans to include the mini-stores in all BrandsMart locations in the next year or so, with hopes of maybe adding Microsoft and Apple stores.
The changes have not been limited to the brick-and-mortar stores. Perlman has hired Oracle to redesign BrandsMart’s entire e-commerce platform, which is expected to launch sometime around December.
Perlman also recently hired Nestor Suarez, former VP of Internet merchandising for Systemax Technology Group— which includes TigerDirect.com and CompUSA.com—as his VP of e-commerce.
“We’re not looking to become a major e-commerce player, but we think our share in the Internet in our market should be bigger, or as big as our largest store,” Perlman said, adding that all of this year’s changes have established a solid foundation for a successful future.
“We don’t want the hit-and-run sale,” he said. “We want the sale and the business after it.”