By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
MobileToys said it has completed one of the first nationwide car stereo installation networks comprised of independent retailers.
The network, which consists of 1,000 independents is currently being used by Sears' mobile electronics department and is available for use by other mass merchants, auto chains or independents.
"What drove us to build the network is Sears," explained senior VP Todd Larrabee, who notes that none of the independents in the installation network have more than three to five stores (so as not to compete with Sears). The network extends across the United States and includes Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico.
MobileToys says it is currently in talks with Wal-Mart and Kmart as possible customers for the network, which Larrabee claims benefits all parties, including the retailers and manufacturers. "If you don't have installation, your returns are three to four times greater," said Larabee, noting that this is a headache for suppliers as well as retailers. Members of the installation network benefit by extra business and MobileToys has already paid its installers close to $500,000 collectively for over 5,000 installations, he said.
Larrabee says the network may be particularly useful in light of some of the new technologies entering the market, such as satellite radio. "I don't know many customers who want to put in a satellite radio themselves, where you're under the dash and on the back glass. This provides whole solutions for [mass merchants] who want to offer new technology," he said.
MobileToys says it makes customer service simple by offering installation cards (like phone cards) which the retailer sells to the consumer at the time of purchase. The dealer swipes the card to activate it and provides a list of local retailers who are participating.
MobileToys says the network covers 85 to 90 percent of the population and that it may continue to add participating installers in rural areas.
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