Buying Power: Nationwide to Prepare Retailers for Tablet Revolution

Will offer more sales and product training as Honeycomb and new tablets hit

When it came to consumer electronics, Nationwide Marketing Group directors would have spent a good deal of their past press conferences at PrimeTime talking about the TV market.

This year, tablets dominated much of the CE conversation. PrimeTime is taking place this week at the Venetian in Las Vegas and runs through the 23rd.

In a sign of how much the market has changed in the last 10 months, Nationwide’s CE division will put place a stronger focus on teaching their members how to market, merchandise and sell tablet PCs and related products. The next few months will be especially critical, as the industry gears up for the release of the Android 3.0 Honeycomb OS for tablets (expected to hit in mid- to late spring) and the launch of new tablets designed for it.

Honeycomb is important for the industry because the first Android OS designed specifically for tablets, which will drive more consumer interest, create better customer support around tablets and generate greater retail sales, said Doug Schatz, Nationwide’s vice president of electronics merchandising. “We have to set the table for the new wave of tablets coming out,” he said.

Part of that will include educating and training dealers who want to carry the devices and “to increase the credibility of the dealers” to tablet vendors, Schatz said. That might not be much of a challenge, Schatz acknowledged, since many CE dealers specialized in PC-related products 10 to 15 years ago, before they transitioned to large-screen TV sales.

Independent dealers are also well positioned to carry tablets because the sale of the devices benefit from an assisted floor. Schatz noted that tablet margins aren’t that bad, around 20%, and the devices can generate add-on sales (networking gear; printers; warranties; cases; wireless keyboards and mice; and integration services for home control, automation and IP-based security) and drive foot traffic. Those benefits will increase as more consumers opt for tablets over desktops, which new research suggests, Schatz said.

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