Attitudes: Small Business Could Be Big for CE Retailers
Independent retailers looking to increase sales, tap new markets and generate additional profit might consider adding a small business technology division or re-merchandise any related products they might already sell.
If you haven't already, you'll soon see many of your competitors trying to engage with this market segment. Staples heavily promoted its Technology Solutions play during the Super Bowl, Apple just launched its Joint Venture for small business and Best Buy continues to push its Best Buy for Business in-store and online initiatives.
Those major players obviously see some value in attracting small businesses and in trying to become their trusted technology providers. Major retailers realize that many of the products and services needed to run a small business today aren't much different from what they already provide their customers. The barrier to entry lowers each day as more businesses adopt products that were originally designed for consumers.
Small businesses are also becoming more comfortable with the concept of buying their technology solutions from the same place they buy their TVs, audio gear and paperclips. Techaisle, a research firm in California, recently released a report stating that 27% of PCs bought by U.S.-based small businesses were through retail.
"In 2010, although a consumer-led year, retail gained importance for both the consumer and the SMB segment," wrote Techaisle's Tavishi Agrawal. (Here's a take on the issue from ChannelEconomics, a site for IT resellers.)
PC unit sales increased by about 2% overall, but declined in markets with more than 5% growth, according to the research firm. Notebooks and tablets will continue to take a bite out of desktop sales, but the small business sale should not stop there.
Independent retailers interested in the market should start thinking about displays, printers, wired and wireless networking gear, IP-based security cameras, storage, software security, digital still and video cameras, and smartphones, as well as the services needed to create, install and maintain small business solutions. Many independent retailers already offer those products and services. It will just take some extra merchandising and marketing strategies to develop smartly packaged small business solutions.