This Retailer Actually Loves Showrooming!

Percy's Alan Lavine shows off the marketing and circular used to drive business through the Mass Save Great Appliance Exchange, better known as "Cash for Appliances."

Around this time of year, we find ourselves searching the industry for words of wisdom, encouragement and inspiration, mainly as a way to learn from what transpired in the past and to establish new goals and better practices for the coming year.

A few of those nuggets came our way during a conversation with Alan Lavine, one of the regional CE dealers who participated in Dealerscope’s annual retailer roundtable. (Check out the December issue for the full report and visit for weekly outtakes. The reports are also packed with insightful and helpful quotes from a handful of other CE retailers).

Lavine, manager of Percy’s, an 80-year-old electronics and appliance institution in Worcester, Mass., is a retailer’s retailer. He knows how to throw a great sales event, take advantage of ripe opportunities (Massachusetts’ 2010 appliance exchange stimulus program was a fine example), change merchandising strategies when needed (bedding, Lavine learned awhile ago, is far more profitable than TVs), and work with valued partners to help him through tough transitions.

So we couldn’t help but smile when we read his comments about showrooming, one of the most pressing, debated and contentious challenges retailers faced last year.

We fully understand the frustration the practice causes dealers, but we always believed the best of them could take advantage of it. A customer using her smartphone in a store is most likely someone who has decided to buy something, somewhere. A good sales associate will make that “somewhere” his or her store.

Before Lavine talked about showrooming, he illustrated some of the improvements Percy’s made during the year. Lavine admitted that he and his team didn’t always do a good job listening to customers. When they began to open their ears, they heard a demand for layaway and added it to their service offerings. (Admitting weak points is always a good sign; fixing them is even better.) They also heard customers asking for lease-to-own and other payment methods.

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  • Ray Windsor

    BRAVO to Percy and team. Taking charge of the transaction and managing the consumer’s perception and setting the consumer’s standard for making and executing the buying decision is what retailing is all about.

    I contend that this is the quality experience that most consumers do not get to have in most purchase transactions which leaves of course only lowest price as the standard.

    WELL DONE. I nominate Percy to conduct the most important seminar at CES and EVERY EVENT attended by retailers, his YES campaign. I’ll bet manufacturers would line up to support that proposal because it should help to significantly improve sell through by overcoming the showrooming lament most retailers have. His YES campain idea should be promoted by every supplier, every rep, every distributor and every trade publication to ALL retailers, especially brick & mortar guys. I would also take a wild guess that his enthusiastic and confident approach to coaching and teaching his staff is critical to the success of such activity.

    Great Stuff ! ! !

    Ray Windsor
    German Maestro

  • Local Advisor

    To my understanding, most of the information provided above simply shows that his store is desparate for attention. His mid-high income client base has dwindled enough that he his having to retool his image to meet the masses, which is not necessarily a bad thing, based on his location. He has lost some key sales people and staff over the past 2 years. Why you would want people to come in, browse, leave, and buy elsewhere, is simply a recipe for locking the doors permanently.