By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
iPod docks that attach to A/V receivers and home stereo systems are surging in popularity, garnering an attachment rate of 35 to 40 percent at some stores.
Some retailers and marketers said the category was slow to take off, in large part because of less-than-stellar merchandising, but that sales began to rise in the past year as more dealers began displaying the docks next to the AV receivers and audio systems to which they were meant to connect, suppliers said.
Yamaha said its attachment rate climbed dramatically in the past 12 months. “In the beginning, it was a little difficult to get the attachment rate we were hoping for. We started selling about two years ago. It has gone way up — a big improvement over our initial year,” said national sales manager Bart Greenberg.
Similarly, Bjorn's Audio Video of San Antonio, Texas, and Flanner's Home Entertainment of Brookfield, Wisc., noted an uptick in sales over the past year. Bjorn's claims dock sales are up by about 50 percent from a year ago, and Flanners says sales are up two- to three-fold. Bjorn's moves about 35 to 40 docks per month, and Flanner's sells about three or four a week, the companies said.
Some suppliers said there was confusion in the market initially as some retailers merchandised iPod docks with iPods themselves or in the accessories department instead of in the home audio or home theater departments. In addition, said Greenberg, retailers often did not haveiPods available for demos for fear of theft.
DLO sales VP sales Jason Hope added, “People truly didn't understand why they would hook up their iPod to their TV or home theater system, but once they see it and use it, they want it.” Nonetheless, there is still merchandising confusion. “Rarely will you see cross merchandising between the receiver buyer and the accessory buyer, so you have an accessory buyer trying to sell a $150 dock with on screen navigation in the accessory section.”
Although consumers can attach an iPod to the audio inputs of a home audio system without using a dock, the dock provides remote access to the iPod from the system's own remote and often allows song metadata to appear on the receiver's display or on a connected TV screen.
Lexicon, which began selling two $3,000 and $4,000 components with optional docks last fall, said its attachment rate is 30 percent. A supplier of moderately priced components said its rate is in the 25 percent range.
For their part, Onkyo, DLO and retailer Myer Emco said sales for their iPod docks took off at the outset. The docks “are selling like drinking water in the Sahara,” said Onkyo sales director Keith Haas. “Sales have been increasing exponentially.” Onkyo's latest dock is universal and works with all brands of receivers, boom boxes, and TVs with an audio input jack. A fourth-generation model is due for release this summer, said Haas. No product details were available.
DLO also said its sales were strong for the past two years, but would not give specific increase levels.
Myer Emco of Gaithersburg, Md., claimed a healthy attachment rate for the docks since their inception because the stores cater to early adopters. VP purchasing Dave Glassman estimates the store enjoys a 35 to 40 percent attachment rate at present.
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