Attitudes from the Editor
In its last issue, Dealerscope ran its annual list of the top 50 CE retailers. One reader — an independent retailer focused on high-end audio/video products —called me to complain after he received that issue. This dealer, who has been featured in several Dealerscope stories, including a cover profile, had a problem with the inclusion of certain dealers in the Top 50 list, such as Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart, Staples, Kroger and a few others. His position was that these were not CE dealers, and shouldn't be included in the list. I'm sympathetic to that, to a degree, but it's important to note that our Top 50 list is an objective list. We didn't choose the dealers we liked best, or the dealers most representative of our readership. We simply reported the numbers.
Certainly, Wal-Mart is nothing like this reader's business, and his clients probably won't rush to Wal-Mart when they want a home theater system. However, to ignore the truth of the majority of Americans' electronics purchases is to shut your eyes in the face of a migrating market. Kroger, this reader argued, is a grocery store, and shouldn't be considered a CE store. Yet its inclusion in our list stems from the Fred Meyer part of the company, which lists 11 rear projection TVs on the Kroger Web site. People are buying electronics from a wide variety of retailers, many non-traditional electronics dealers. Does it serve the Dealerscope reader to report on this? I think so.
Information like this can help you understand how consumers perceive electronics and electronics shopping. How many of the dealers on our Top 50 are price- and convenience-oriented, verses service-oriented? What does this tell you? Consider the lesson learned by Harvey Electronics, profiled in this issue's cover story. Knowing where the majority of the electronics business is, and knowing it couldn't play successfully in that realm, Harvey chose to follow the smaller crowd with the deeper pockets, rather than the larger, price-sensitive crowd.