San Antonio — The Progressive Retailers Organization was at the Westin La Cantera Hill Coun
Today's consumer electronics retailers offer a more diverse spectrum of technologies, brands and products for lifestyle/entertainment activities than ever. American consumers continue to respond in record numbers. CE sales were over $100 billion in 2003, setting new records. CEA's revised projections cite 8.1 percent growth for 2004. Store shelves are stocked with cellphones, digital cameras, camcorders, DVDs, CDs, TVs, MP3s, laptops, PDAs and more. Before our very eyes, the barriers between technologies are falling and feature sets are migrating from aisle to aisle.
In the face of all this change, is there any question that the target of our efforts — the customer — is bewildered about how to maintain, integrate and use CE products? One new challenge retailers face is to maintain the integrity between the purpose and the purchase. Now more than ever, people stare at a package, wondering if the device they are about to buy will do the job they want it to. In simple terms, we must try our best to match the performance of the product to the buyer's intent.
Often the answer lies in accessories. The CE accessories market today presents a little hidden vigorish — a high margin, quick-turn revenue stream — for retailers who are savvy about the need to accessorize and how to do it. Accessories are profit drivers, creating add-on sales from the core product by the same customer. At the same time, they solve a problem for the end user by helping the core product fulfill its purpose of purchase.
More than with core products, accessory packaging must “educate” the customer. While the core product can be an impulse buy, a customer considering an accessory purchase has a specific goal or task in mind. Don't be afraid to give him the information he needs to make a decision at the point of sale. Information-rich packaging that identifies compatibility with popular brands and models can close the deal. Those little charts that list compatible makes and models are just what your customer needs to take action. Steer away from manufacturers that will not state brand compatibility on their packaging.
Accessory packaging also should illustrate how the accessory works with the core product. Action shots, before-and-after comparisons or benefit illustrations are worth a thousand words to the perplexed end user. Packaging that answers the question, “Does this work with mine?” expedites the sale, reduces returns and increases customer loyalty.
Ultimately, the best resource to facilitate accessory sales is a knowledgeable sales staff. When your customer asks about the lens on her new digital camera, your sales staff should be trained to answer: “You need a conversion lens.” That is when the accessory sale is made. Typically a one-hour to two-hour training session can get your sales staff up to speed on accessories. Some manufacturers are willing to train your sales staff on how their accessory products enhance core product performance. When your staff knows how an accessory supports the core product, you are far more effective in making the most of accessory opportunities.
Until the magical day arrives when one device does it all, we all need to help our customers navigate the tides of changing technologies. In doing so, retailers can add to their bottom line by providing the accessories that offer the solution. The magic of accessories is that they extend the feature set of a core product toward a specific purchase — in short, they satisfy the purpose of the purchase.