Business Strategy

Building Bridges CEA seeks to strengthen U.S. industry ties to
August 1, 2005

"The Chinese (consumer electronics) market is going to surpass the U.S. market within four years," forecasts Todd Thibodeaux, vice president of industry relations at the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). "Within five years, the Chinese market will be bigger than the U.S., and it will just go on from there." Faced with that economic reality, and in contrast to the anti-China sentiment flaring recently in Congress, CEA is working both sides of the Pacific Ocean to strengthen China's working relationship with the U.S. consumer technology industry. The 2005 International Chinese Consumer Electronics Show (SINOCES), held July 1-4 in Qingdao, a coastal port city in

The Price of Oblivion
August 1, 2005

No news is good news, right? Wrong. Very wrong. Over the last year, our entire management structure at Bjorn's Audio-Video reorganized—and not by choice. The shake-up began in early 2004, with an exodus of relatively new employees in our custom division to a competing business founded by a former salesman of ours. Losing more than half of our custom installers in a matter of weeks taught us we were dangerously out of touch with that part of our business. Then, as we rebuilt our custom division, other internal issues—not the least of which was the unexpected death of my partner Bob White last December—drove

Spreading the Word About High-end Specialty
July 1, 2005

By Sean Wargo The face of retail is clearly changing. With Wal-Mart's solid showing in the CE space, many of the other players are moving up stream to get out of the giant's way. Witness: Best Buy's addition of the Geek Squad and a broader integration of the Magnolia HiFi division into its stores. Witness also much more solutions-oriented concept stores from a number of other specialty retailers, such as RadioShack in Fort Worth and Tweeter in Las Vegas. The key theme here is service. Consumers hopefully want and need more of it as product complexity increases and ease of self-integration declines. In fact, a

Selling Time- Learning from the time-share hustle
July 1, 2005

By Elly Valas Every year, my family vacations in Mexico. This year, like last year, we were enticed by the special gifts offered if only we'd invest 90 minutes to listen to a presentation about the resort's new development. But the experiences were vastly different and provide valuable lessons for those of us in sales. This year the experience was unpleasant. My hackles went up the minute I entered the sales center. Cold, hungry-looking sales assistants stood at the ready waiting for their assigned targets. It felt like we were cattle being led off to slaughter. After they asked a few questions mostly to

The Specialty Retail Advantage
June 1, 2005

By Johnny Fare It's no secret that electronics retailing continues to evolve. For nearly two decades we have seen the rise of the big-box power retailers such as Best Buy, Circuit City, Wal-Mart and Costco. The internet has become a factor, both with pure online retailers and click-and-mortar combinations. Preceding these developments, and continuing to this day, has been a large body of audio/video specialist dealers. How do these specialist dealers continue to flourish in the shadow of the national and regional giants, and the ubiquity of the world wide web? Why do vendors need these dealers, and how can these dealers stay on their

LG Cracks Down on Internet Sales
May 17, 2005

By David Dritsas Since January 2003, LG Electronics has prohibited its authorized dealers from selling LG-branded consumer electronics over the internet. Now the company is going on the offensive with that policy, enlisting the help of Net Enforcers, Inc., a company that investigates and reports dealers who violate vendor policies and misrepresent brand-names. "We began to see product appearing in some clearly inappropriate places," says Robert Perry, vice president sales and channel marketing for LG. "We also began to get complaints from consumers. After they bought [an LG] product, they weren't getting good service or good support and installation." In order to thwart such

In-Store Experience Impacts Spending, Survey Says
May 4, 2005

Recent findings validate the influence of a "positive in-store experience" when it comes to increased profits for retailers, including a 25 percent spending increase based on satisfactory shopping, according to ChannelEdge. The company released a recent in-store survey of consumers evaluating TVs and related accessories at the point-of-sale. The survey, conducted during March and April of this year, involved interviews with more than 300 individuals, including those in the process of shopping and those who had just made a purchase. "There were dramatic changes in consumer behavior from the time people entered the store until they made a final decision," says Dr. Pamela Henderson, CEO

Don't Sell-Out on Service- Good Service and the Art of Compromi
May 1, 2005

I was meeting with a group of dealers in Salem, Oregon last month when we began discussing the difficulties of satisfying today's fussy consumers. The universal question was posed: How much service is too much? Unfortunately, the discussion focused on product returns without looking at the issue more widely. No retailer plans to deliver poor service to their customers, but the difficulty sometimes comes in defining customer service. In the end, the customer has the ultimate say in what is and what isn't great service. The number of things that go under the broad umbrella of customer service is endless. It includes store

GERS Summit Offers Retail Solutions
April 18, 2005

Retail informations systems company GERS held its annual Retail Excellence Summit for three days in San Diego starting on March 7. About 200 dealers attended this year, mostly existing users of GERS software products, though a few prospects attended to get a taste of what the company offers. Most of the attendees came from the furniture retail market, GERS' target audience with Furniture Net, an online portal for this community. However the company's growth into CE attracted several electronics and appliance dealers, including representatives from Bernies of Vermont and Percy's of Boston. The summit itself consisted of several keynote sessions on marketing and

Customer Connection Demos, educated sales staff make a big impa
March 1, 2005

The following conversation can have an overwhelmingly positive impact on retail CE sales: Retail sales staff: "Do you want that HDTV the way it comes out of the box, or would you like to see it the way we recommend it here at the store?" Customer: "What do you mean?" Sales staff: "Here, let me show you what a high-quality power cable can do with the following demonstration." It comes as no surprise that as prices of consumer electronics components continue to decline, so do related profits—that is, unless, retailers can successfully bundle higher-margin accessory products with each and every sale, making them essential to the optimum performance