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Nationwide Group Sees CE Opportunities

3/12/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern

ORLANDO, FLA. – Unilateral pricing programs, improved
channel management by vendors, new TV
technology, and opportunities with tablets and other
categories and a weakened Sears all provide Nationwide
Marketing Group members with hope for its CE
fortunes in 2012.

Those are some of the issues discussed by Robert
Weisner, CEO, during a press conference, and with
Doug Schatz, CE marketing VP, and Jeannette Howe,
executive director of Specialty Electronics Nationwide
(SEN), during one-on-one meetings with TWICE at
Nationwide’s PrimeTime! meeting, here.

Schatz said that while the implementation of the
new unilateral pricing programs being set by Panasonic,
Samsung and Sony, and channel-management
programs by LG and others, will be critical to
the health of the CE industry, “the new model in place
to build to forecast vs. build to sell” is just as important.
Building to forecast will keep inventories in control and
limit profit erosion.

Schatz said Nationwide supports the new unilateral
pricing policies to improve profits for all and said
that channel-management changes enables Nationwide
members to “sell value-added products, smart
TV, 3D, voice and gesture based controls, [since
they] require a selling floor. Our view is we are part
of the solution.”

Schatz said Nationwide “believes in channel management”
if top-tier vendors “put the right products in
the right channels.”

Weisner said several top-tier CE brands “have
similar plans to accomplish the same goal. Most have
some enforcement involved. If you add up the numbers”
in losses, especially in TV, “they have been told
to change their business model.”

Schatz added that while the industry has been
through many “false starts” on such programs, Shatz
has a “cautious optimism” about these new plans.

Schatz is seeing a shift towards profitability versus
market share now since profits are at a premium and it
is “time to look within business and shift more profits”
vs. just volume.

In tablets and computers, Nationwide is looking to create
“the right vendor relationships,” and Shatz said it has
those with Acer, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo and Toshiba.

When it comes to gaming, computers, tablets and
digital imaging, there are “lower profits but quicker
cycles” that Nationwide members have to get used to
as they attempt to improve traffic and attract “younger
customers… who will buy TVs, improved audio systems”
and these other CE categories.

Another way to attract younger consumers is “using
social media to deal with shoppers armed with a
smartphone. We have been training our members at
PrimeTime! on how to win in a multichannel environment
and show how you can move from being a brickand-
mortar retailer to include web sales … without
hurting profitability.”

Howe said SEN is “encouraged” by the new policies
and added that its members can “sell more over-50-
inch TVs and sell attachments — 5.1 audio systems —
because we can demonstrate them.”

She maintained that new technology in CE has recently
become commodities “before it comes to the
market. [The industry] needs independents to show
technology and explain how it works. How do you buy
3D at Amazon? You need to demonstrate it to sell
3D successfully. That’s why [consumers] haven’t had
good experience with 3D.”

Schatz said that a lot of SEN members have been
successful in selling connected home products due to
the “belief” that sales involving “higher labor components
… equals profitability. Networking a Toshiba TV
and tablet to home lighting controls with automation
excites us and our membership. It shows our training
and knowledge of the technology.”

And as for the effect of Sears closing locations,
Shatz said, “It benefits our membership. Our members
have a directed sales floor … and anytime you
have a retailer that is vulnerable, there should be some
customer shift. We can provide a growth area [for CE
vendors], we can demonstrate 50-inch and over TVs
for instance, which is a sweet spot for us and vendors.”

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