Time To Try Something New
2012 was a miserable year for most CE retailers. It's clearly time to start trying something different.
Collectively, the industry's Top 101 Retailers generated $233.49 billion in sales, a paltry 2.76 percent more than the $227.22 billion they earned in 2011. Many of the big boys, including Best Buy, Staples and Sears, continue to close stores.
Independent retailers typically fare better than the nationals during tough times-mainly due to the deep relationships they've forged in their communities, their flexibility, the protection from broader economic trends that tertiary markets often afford-but they shared an equal amount of pain. Vann's declared bankruptcy and major buying groups reported that CE sales through many of their regional dealers were down for the year.
A few weeks ago, I was talking to a regional dealer -one who has beautiful stores, strong vendor relationships and innovative merchandising strategies-who wondered if his company could make it through this year. "We make no money on TVs," he said. "What are we supposed to do, survive on audio margins? I just don't know what to do."
"What to do?" is a question on the minds of most independent CE retailers today. No one has proven answers, but many have suggestions that could help.
Nationwide Marketing Group, for example, is rolling out its InfoPad program to help sales associates combat showrooming and to sell more effectively. The group is also improving the manufacturer information and databases it provides through its Intranet.
Home Entertainment Source is urging its dealers to expand their traditional categories to capture more profitable market segments and expand their customer bases. Custom integrators could explore categories like soundbars and audio streaming systems, for example, while more general CE dealers might want to take on a broader array of step-up products and solutions that require more profitable integration services.