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Cooking Up Hot Solutions

April 4, 2012 By Jeff O’Heir
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During the last few years, Dave Wexler, co-owner of the Little Guys, a specialty CE dealer in the greater Chicago area, has been shifting his focus away from profit-challenged TVs to new solutions such as digital music.

Wexler is part of a growing trend among savvy retailers and vendors who are embracing the marketing, merchandising and demonstration of connected solutions, as opposed to one-off video or audio product sales. The move has helped dealers increase profits, differentiate themselves from big-box retailers, and offer existing and new consumers the hands-on expertise and education they can’t get from e-tailers.

One of the latest chapters of this reinvention involves the sale of high-quality digital music systems and solutions. It’s based on offering the tools, software, hardware, installation services and education a consumer needs to increase the resolution of downloaded music files, optimize their playback and stream them throughout the home. Several dealers have sold digital music gear for years but not necessarily in a uniform, cohesive manner that focuses on full solutions.

“We know there are millions of iPhones, iPads and Android devices that our customers are downloading music on,” Wexler said. “The question is: How are they doing it? They’re not taking advantage of the fidelity and high-resolution that’s available. We want to make the process easier for them and to show them how to get back to better sound. What’s important to us is maximizing our customers’ sound.”

In the past, Wexler and his team had set up a few good-better-best networked systems around the store, gaining some traction with customers who wanted to improve the quality, access and streaming of their digital music files. “We thought we were dong okay having a little digital music spot here and there,” Wexler said.

That was until he started talking to Dean Miller, CEO of the Lenbrook Group, the parent company of NAD Electronics and PSB Loudspeakers.
Miller had been talking to a few specialty dealers about a concept he was developing called Digital Music Experience Centers. The idea is that a dealer dedicates a space in his showroom (a minimum of about 400 square feet) and sets up six different areas or stations designed to educate consumers about the different ways they can improve their entire digital music experience, including access, downloading, reproduction and streaming. The concept is still in the beta stage, but Miller expects several dealers to complete their centers in the next few months and about 40 to develop experience centers by the end of the year.
 
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