It’s no secret that the margin squeeze on under-60-inch panels keeps getting tighter, so with no letup in sight independent dealers are raising their bets on audio to boost bottom lines.
Heavy marketing and smart management - along with a resurgence of consumer interest in many things audio – certainly helped the category shine last year. But maintaining that momentum will take fresh cycles of innovative new categories and updated traditional products in tune with the changing needs consumers.
That was the reason the ProSource organization, which includes dealers of the PRO Group and Brand Source’s Home Entertainment Source (HES) buying groups, recently toured factories and R&D centers of select suppliers. The trip included visits to D+M, Harman, Onkyo/Integra and Sharp.
Rick Souder, COO and executive vice president of merchandising at Crutchfield, spent his early working years in management positions at The Gap and U.S. Shoe Corporation. While he valued the experience he gained there, he’ll tell you there’s nothing in the apparel business that matches the excitement of selling consumer electronics.
The tide is changing on the once-fearedpractice of showrooming, where customers check out products in the store and whip out their smartphones to search for a better deal. A growing number of retailers are adopting the philosophy of engaging smartphone-wielding mobile shoppers in an effort to win them over and, ultimately, boost sales.
Hubert Joly, CEO of Best Buy, which has lost more sales to Amazon than any other electronics retailer, even went so far as to proclaim in a recent Wall Street Journal article: “We love showrooming.”
There’s no bigger industry evangelist for omni-channel marketing—the capability to meet and service consumers at every possible touch point—than Best Buy. The retailer has declared it a top priority to render the product research and buying experience seamless for buyers, whether they are toggling between mobile devices and home computers, calling in an order or browsing the showroom floor. And despite Best Buy’s recent problems, it has the resources to execute the play on a grand scale.
ProSource said this week that its leaders recently visited Asia to meet with audio manufacturers, including D&M, Yamaha, Harman/Kardon, and Onkyo/Integra.
Memo to specialty CE retailers: Think green, not pink, when a female customer walks through your doors. Women are embracing consumer electronics more than ever, buying e-readers, tablets, smartphones, digital cameras, notebooks and other CE devices for themselves and their families.
Members of the PRO Group and Brand Source’s Home Entertainment Source (HES) pow-wowed and shared ideas and solidarity at their PRO Source party in Indianapolis’ Hyatt Hotel on the eve of Day One at the convention. (Photos: Nancy Klosek)