Retail Pros Discuss Full Solution Strategies

Dealerscope’s own Jeff O’Heir moderated a three-man panel at the CEA Line Shows Digital Downtown Conference on Wednesday about a subject every CE retailer needs to be paying close attention to: selling customers on the full solution.

Chatting with O’Heir about the various challenges and opportunities of full solution selling were Electronics Expo CEO Leon Temiz, Talk of the Town COO Bob Dodge, and BrandSource District Manager Chad Evans.

“I think the business is changing dramatically, and you have to change with the times,” said Temiz, when asked to explain the logic behind the recently transformed showroom floors at Electronics Expo’s New Jersey locations. According to O’Heir, both Temiz and Dodge have not only reconfigured their shop’s show floors in order to better reflect the full-solution sale—they’ve also significantly tweaked their business models.

Temiz, for instance, has attempted to give his stores the feel of a boutique-style information center by adding hands-on Connectivity Centers. Consumers can try out a series of connected products at the centers, which emphasize full solutions over individual products.

Dodge’s store takes advantage of a similar method known as Connected SOURCE—essentially a 300 square-foot area featuring various digital products and home networking solutions. “We can no longer just count on our sales of audio and video,” Dodge pointed out. “Home networking is really the key to the future for us.”

Evans, who happens to be the director of the Connected SOURCE program, naturally agreed with Dodge and Temiz’s sentiments about the vitality of emphasizing full solutions in retail settings. But convincing custom retailers to change their tactics, he said, can often be an uphill battle.

“It’s definitely a challenge,” he said, “because we’re taking guys that were in the A/V specialty space, and trying to get them to change their mindsets.”

Of course, convincing consumers to buy into the full-solution philosophy can also be a significant challenge. Temiz explained that in an effort to battle consumer’s individual-product thinking, he has salespeople carry around tablets that are connected to all the store’s systems.

Expo salespeople also make an effort to use the consumers’ own smartphones or tablets when showing off music products, for instance. “It gives them the wow effect,” Temiz said. “[As in], ‘Wow, I can [really] do this!’”

The panelists also chatted briefly about major industry trends, and both Dodge and Evans mentioned the growth in popularity of light commercial and the use of digital signage. “And offering home control to the consumer,” Evans added. “I think that’s going to be a big one.”

Temiz, for his part, believes that one of the industry’s next big trends will be the end of the big-box. He predicts a shift will begin soon, he said, toward smaller stores that are both more personal and more educational.

Dan Eldridge is a journalist and guidebook author based in Philadelphia's historic Old City district, where he and his partner own and operate Kaya Aerial Yoga, the city's only aerial yoga studio. A longtime cultural reporter, Eldridge also writes about small business and entrepreneurship, travel, and the publishing industry. Follow him on Twitter at @YoungPioneers.

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