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Tablet Accessories: An Easy Multiplier

New retail strategies maximize tablet accessory sales

September 7, 2011 By Nancy Klosek
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iPad and Android tablet accessories are flying out the door, and the backdraft is bringing in nice margins for dealers.

Keeping tabs on tablet accessories is like trying to count the number of windows on a high-speed train that’s racing between stations. Right along with sales of iPads and Android-based tablets, these add-ons are swiftly increasing in number and functionality, and in their wake they’re offering great margin-making opportunities for retailers, whether or not they carry the hardware.

Dealers polled about their success with tablet accessories said that, due to iPad’s head start, the variety of iPad and iPad 2 accessories is currently outpacing product choices for their Droid counterparts. But with the holiday season just around the corner, dealers expect some catch-up in what will be available. Meanwhile, many have either designed or are in the process of reworking their in-store merchandising schemes to optimize customers’ exposure to the hundreds of SKUs that vendors plan to ship.

The hottest tablet accessories right now are cases, docks and chargers, followed by screen protectors, cleaners, stands, styluses, keyboards, extended warranty plans, and even some gaming accessories, dealers report.

“We don’t see a lot of naked iPads or Androids going out the door,” said Matt Barrett, technology merchant for The On Store in Missoula, Mont. He said accessory attachment rates for iPads can hit about 75% for accessories under $30, a figure that has been increasing in the last few months. For docks, whose prices can run well into triple digits, attachment rates at the time the device is purchased hovers around 40%.

The most successful tablet accessories, like the hardware they enhance, have to be about looks as much as about functionality. That fact is not lost on vendors, who have produced some strikingly unusual products, Barrett said.

People might love the design of Apple’s iPad 2 magnetic “smart cover,” but the buy doesn’t stop there. They’ll often add full body cases and more when they first buy their iPad. And it’s common for customers to buy three or four cases at a time, Barrett said. “We’re seeing multiple purchases for different uses, depending on whether they’re going to work, or if they’re going on a trip and want the device to be a little bit more protected, or going out at night, where they might need a thinner case that’s a little more stylish,” he said. 
 

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