12 Volt: Prepping for THE Show
What products and product categories could possibly be so compelling that they excite today’s 12-volt retailer? The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the mecca for new and exciting product introductions in all areas of consumer electronics, including the car electronics aftermarket.
While the show is often launching new 12-volt products, it also has become a place where automotive manufacturers show their latest in-vehicle entertainment and safety systems. This makes it a great time of year for 12-volt retailers to push the reset button and assess what exciting opportunities they have in products and services to improve, enhance and integrate with today’s vehicles.
Technology is nothing new to 12-volt specialist retailers, though. They’re literally surrounded by technology on a daily basis and often it’s the consumer’s awareness or acceptance of using, purchasing and installing those technologies packaged in the products offered that is the core day-to-day business at the retailer’s store. “We have an awful lot of great technologies and products we offer, but our mission is to continually make what we offer easier, more intuitive and somehow more valuable to the customer’s driving experience than if they were without it,” commented Derek Pace of Certified Sounds, a 12-volt single-store retailer in Wailuku, Hawaii (on the island of Maui).
Pace and fellow 12-volt retailer Joe Cassity, Operations Director of Alarms ETC., a three-store chain in Florida, each face a regular stream of inquiries from customers with smartphones of some sort about how they can be tastefully integrated into their vehicle for more than just hands-free conversations.
“We have a lot of Android users that are still driving older vehicles and, thus, ideal candidates for an aftermarket head unit or other integration device that’ll allow them to have enhanced use of their phone’s voice, data and media features safely while in the car,” stated Cassity. Pace, Cassity and other 12-volt retailers are also in agreement about the whole user interface of our in-dash products. “I’m also more interested in seeing customizable GUIs or true interfaces into iPhone and Android platforms where the screen in the vehicle mimics the phone in a safe and intuitive way,” added Cassity.
Mike Cofield, President of Custom Sounds, a 16-store multi-state 12-volt retailer and MESA retail group founding member says: “We’re excited about [non-navigation] in-dash video head units, particularly the kind that connect to smartphones for the navigation functionality and other optional features.”
It’s a strategy that passes savings on to customers and still allows the user to experience a host of modern features. “What we’re finding is our customers with iPhones are very engaged in the pursuit of technology, so we’re giving them more options to use and connect with products we install,” he added. In addition Cofield cites the new Kenwood Ford SYNC replacement solution utilizing the new iDataLink Maestro integration module and Metra’s Tru-Connect accessory wiring products as avenues of profit opportunity for their own stores and fellow MESA group retailers.