Mary Campbell, D&H Distributing’s vice president of marketing, recapped the 2017 holiday season for her company, characterizing the period during a CES-held interview as “a nice, strong Q4 across all groups in retail and etail.”
Campbell elaborated, “We were almost 15 percent up for the holiday over last year,” saying product categories that primarily accounted for this rise in business included but were not limited to 4K TV, smart home, PC gaming, Virtual Reality, and those touched by voice-activation technologies. “We were very pro-active on helping our customers prepare for the holidays,” she said. That strategy included encouraging “selling customers whole solutions” – namely, bundling complementary products such as gaming consoles and headsets, and presenting them as packages.
“Readying our customers is what we like to do,” Campbell said. Part of that was about promoting mesh networking solutions that provide consumers with a robust foundation for many of these interdependent categories to function seamlessly, she explained. “Mesh networking is how you get everything working,” she said. Also strong at the register were cord-cutting products, including TVs with embedded platforms such as Roku TV tailored for that purpose, which she said is “starting to cut across all age groups.
“Customer experience is a big thing,” Campbell said. “When I look at the year ahead and what we can help our customers do, it’s about creating that experience. I really believe D&H can play a continued role there – do the heavy lifting, even in helping them in selling ‘attach,’ which you need to do because, of course, it’s added-on margin.” She said that D&H, in its programs, is about helping dealers in “striking a balance” between their brick-and mortar and online presences. “These are opportunities for all retailers. Don’t forego that every touch of the customer should be the experience. And every experience should be good. We want to teach our customers that, at every touchpoint. As a retailer, you don’t want to be relegated to, ‘I hope they find me because I have a good product.’”
D&H’s pro-activity, as 2017 drew to a close, not only included making its marketing-tools arsenal available to its customers. Also, the distributor saw a greater-than-ever uptake of these tools by its clients. “We had a 15 percent increase in late 2017 in our dealers using our asset tools,” she said. “Besides communicating what we offer through regular vehicles, it was our Partner Services team talking to people at our Fall show. We are definitely making sure we attach all that we offer to any training.”
Moving through the 2018 calendar year, D&H will focus on deepening its commitment to categories that have proven successful for its clients. These efforts will include continuing to devote separate real estate to both the gaming and smart home categories at D&H’s biannual shows – and on enriching each show’s educational content with opportunities for more interaction and learning, beyond the customary rows of vendor tabletops.
The marketplace is ever-evolving and as new customer groups rise to the consumer level, getting dealers up to speed on their wants and manner of shopping is crucial, Campbell said. With the ubiquity of Millennial customers in the marketplace, and the rise of the even-younger Gen-Z buyer demographic, “if you’re not educating that younger audience on the reliability of your product, they might never see it. There’s so much more selection. When brands were dominant, with our parents, loyalty was transferred. Now there are more choices. You have to reach them in the ways they like to be reached, and deliver an experience that ‘makes them happy’… We want to bring more education on that front to our shows, in the service of helping dealers understand their customers. And we’ve seen more success as we’ve done that.”