Retail Power: Directing the Customer Experience
A Nurturing E-commerce Business
He says his e-commerce business, rather than fighting for attention against the rest of his operation, nourishes it. “I have a custom business and retail, and the Internet totally supports the other legs.
“When I put a product that’s in my stores on Amazon, I sell more of that product in the stores the very next day,” Cole continues. “It’s my Number One method of advertising. People who are local who want to buy a receiver go to Amazon, see ‘Featured Merchant—World Wide Stereo,’ and say, ‘Oh, I can go there; I can touch it,’ and we’re going to end up selling multiples of that product. Where I’ve challenged manufacturers is I’ve said, if you let me put this on Amazon and on my own website, and if you restrict it from the bandits, I’m going to quadruple my business out of the stores. And 100 percent, that’s how it’s worked.”
He has even figured out a formula that can make him money on TV sales. “We have an occasional in-store sale and certainly online, we have sales all the time. But we don’t participate in Black Friday; we don’t do those crazy promotions. If it’s not profitable, we don’t sell it. And manufacturers love us because we’re holding MAP.
“We are selling a lot fewer panels, but I’d say the net profit just on panels is significantly more than three years ago. The video we do sell is profitable. On top of that, you put all the attachments. The reality is, my guys knew they had to sell audio, lighting and shading and all of a sudden, we’re doing slightly less or the same revenue but our bottom line is huge.”
Cole has just begun selling wearables online, and the future holds forays into carrying other categories there, such as tablets, but he isn’t moving into areas that are very far afield from his core business.