Technology in the Age of Recession
Flanner: It’s important that we get good product information and training as a specialist. Also, the specialty channel is a higher-cost channel, so we need the opportunity to make a fair profit. It feels sometimes as though this is one industry where the laws of supply-and-demand don’t hold true all the time. Where the demand is higher than the supply, the availability can be tight, and the prices go down. It happens virtually instantly with the product rollout. That’s poor channel management by the manufacturers and it hurts everyone. We need leadership at the vendor level with channel strategies that support an orderly rollout of great products.
Dealerscope: Which product categories could use a technology boost due to maturity? And which product set needs the most improvement to drive sales?
Flanner: The audio receiver! It’s basically been the same design since 1975 when I got into the business, except it’s bigger, with more connections, more buttons and a much more intimidating user interface. Generally speaking, it’s kind of a design dinosaur, and the customer deserves better. If you ask people if they want a really heavy box with all wires coming into it at the back and a 119-button remote control, what will they say? That one’s ripe for a change. If you think of a receiver as a music device, and a product whose designers have thought a lot about user interface, it’s Sonos. Nice job—new music options made much more accessible.