Ristow and Bob Lawrence, BrandSource CEO, encouraged the dealers to work at forming tighter relationships with several key BrandSource/HES vendors, all of who are hungry to partner with them. Considering the state of some of the major large CE retailers – including Best Buy, Radio Shack, Sears and even Amazon.com, which suffered declining profits in 2012 – “you are the strongest group,” Lawrence said.
Ristow added that HES and ProSource members have a combined buying power of about $3 billion. The group experienced double-digit growth last year in audio, home control/automation, large-panel TVs, lighting and shades, and commercial.
HES executives urged the dealers to do more in leveraging social media and other types of new marketing strategies to promote what they can do better than their big-box competitors, including product and solution demonstrations, across-the-board installations, the merchandising of better-and-best product categories, pushing higher ASPs, and the ability to be the consumer’s go-to technology expert and solution provider.
While a multitude of challenges continues to plague all segments of the CE and custom industries, there are plenty of bright sides, including a near-record DOW, increases in new housing starts and remodeling, and a resurgence of the luxury market. “It’s not perfect,” Ristow said of the current business climate, “but we can feel the momentum.”
Some of the major solution trends driving that momentum include wireless speakers (“Every speaker vendor is not just looking into this technology, they’re all investing in it,” Ristow said.), new audio, a variety of better and best home control and automation, large-panel TVs (“We’re selling a better class of TVs at higher prices,” he said), shades and lighting, and headphones. Providing consumers with the advice and products they need to leverage the cloud and its related technologies is another category that dealers must begin to leverage.