TWICE: This year what new categories — in CE or non-CE — have you added to spur growth for your company and your retailers?
Bill Stewart, Petra Industries: With smartphone and tablet usage continuing to skyrocket, we’ve had great success with our portable power category and are stocking more lines to support the demand. In addition, we’ve brought in a number of products such as appcessories and CE devices that monitor and analyze a variety of body and activity metrics to expand our health and fitness category. Our outdoor category has experienced significant growth this year as we’ve added solar chargers, backpacks, action-cams and more to that lineup.
Jerry Satoren, DSI Systems: Over the past few months, we have been testing appliances, bedding and furniture in Texas and Louisiana. The results have been very positive.
For our dealers, many of whom participate in some or all of these businesses, they are able to mix categories and brands on one truck, enabling them to realize enormous savings on freight and the cost of carrying inventory as they no longer have to deal with individual vendor minimum order requirements.
In addition, offering leading brands like GE, Frigidaire, Ashley, Sealy and Catnapper has given many dealers the ability to confidently add new categories to their assortment in a very cost-effective way.
Rob Eby, purchasing VP, D&H Distributing: D&H is moving into the addition of wearable technologies, including home healthcare products such as self-monitoring bracelets and activity trackers. We also continue to add products in areas such as small appliances, housewares, sporting goods, and home and outdoors, which have shown solid sales. Such categories can help CE retailers diversify and add incremental revenues.
Also, a do-it-yourself trend is emerging in home automation, including innovations like wireless door locks controlled by a personal phone or other device, or web-enabled thermostats that the user can control off-site from a smartphone or tablet.
Warren Chaiken, Almo: We’ve recently added several non-CE categories in the outdoor and indoor living products segment. We are seeing tremendous interest in the new Frigidaire Indoor Fireplace Line. It is the first indoor line from a tier-one brand, which is garnering instant credibility and visibility in the dealer and consumer channels.
Kevin Kelly, Stampede Presentation Products: Over the last year we’ve seen a significant increase in demand for unified communications, education, and IP security products and solutions from our dealers. And the demand is all linked directly to the larger trend of more and more customers moving away from desktop solutions to device and Cloud-based communication with their respective audiences. This continual shift in usage patterns is tremendously exciting for all of us involved in this industry.
Curt Hayes, Capitol: We’re bullish on Session Initiative Protocol (SIP) phones. The value is clear and demonstrable to even the most skeptic end users. They do extremely well on the pro A/V side as well, but, as far as consumers are concerned, it’s easy to illustrate how SIP phones provide a significant cost savings without any sacrifice in performance.
Dennis Holzer, The PowerHouse Alliance: Our group has added a significant amount of vendor offerings for our dealers in the IT/networking area. As more and more products “require” the Internet to operate, the consumer has significantly increased their spending to make sure their homes and offices are Wi-Fi ready and their signal reception is seamless when using these products. This category will continue to grow significantly as more Wi-Fi products emerge.
Fred Towns, New Age Electronics and Jack of All Games: Home control for the connected home allows consumers tie into their home security systems to monitor and control multiple things within their homes — all from their mobile device. There is a whole new array of non-traditional CE products that retailers can capitalize on. These technologies allow home owners to turn the lights on before they arrive home, watch video surveillance of their property, to even having moisture control monitors that can alert the home owner to a leak in their hot water heater.
And we have added new wearable technology products that we have tested and put the New Age “stamp of approval” on.
Tim Coakley, Ingram Micro Consumer Electronics: Because of high demand from Ingram’s customer base, health and fitness-related consumer electronics is the segment that we foresee significant growth over the rest of 2013 and for 2014. It provides the CE retailer the perfect adjacency product line to be able to diversify and grow their business. As a result, we have added several new and exciting product lines within the health and fitness category just in time for the holiday season.