By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
MERA, The Mobile Electronics Retailers Association announced several new programs, including a collaboration with the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) and a new financing program with GE Car Services.
In addition, the association said it is seeking to expand its presence in the industry by getting more involved with legislation and noise ordinance issues. Said executive director Rick Mathies, "Our feeling is we need to be the voice for the industry, especially the retailers. We're becoming more involved and looking to partner with other associations, including CEA, to get more active in legislative issues."
MERA is working with SEMA to help make the upcoming SEMA show more accessible to 12-volt retailers. To be held Nov. 5-8 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, the show highlights performance accessories, an area of growing interest to mobile electronics retailers. Retailers will be offered a special sneak preview of the convention floor the day before the show opens to point out booths and displays of key interest to 12-volt retailers.
MERA and SEMA will sponsor seminars at the show to help 12-volt retailers learn about the traditional auto market and help automotive accessories dealers learn about mobile electronics. MERA will also host a booth showcasing mobile electronics products and sponsor product awards.
In a separate announcement, MERA said it is offering a new financing program for its retailers through GE Car Services. The organization has signed a five-year contract to create a national finance program called CarCareONE. It will allow retailers to offer customers 90-day, six-month and 12-month financing "same as cash" and it will also provide roadside assistance to all card holders at no additional cost. MERA members who sign up for the program will have their store name embossed on the CarCareONE card under the customers' names.
According to Mathies, "This is the only national finance program that we know of for mobile retailers. This is an accomplishment." He explained that it is difficult to find companies willing to insure car audio clients who are typically 18- to 24-year old males. The last time MERA was able to offer such financing was 18 months ago.
MERA's board of trustees also met recently to discuss future initiatives to make the organization more proactive. This includes an effort to counter efforts by Noise Free America, a group based in Davis County, Calif., that is campaigning to hold retailers accountable for consumers playing loud car stereos, said Mathies. He said the group is trying to form chapters around the country and that MERA is forming a committee to "keep abreast of it and come up with solutions that our retailers can use in the field to combat these issues."
More information is available at www.merausa.org.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.