By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
SEATTLE — Virtually from the launch of the first HDTVs, e-commerce retailing of an item like a television set was considered a difficult proposition.
TVs were expensive and difficult to ship, even more difficult to return, and typically required an extensive in-person picture quality evaluation to sell.
But over time, Amazon has helped to change that paradigm by offering bargain price points, confidence-building 30-day return policies, and detailed product and technology information.
Today, Amazon’s CE VP Ben Hartman said the company continues to see growth from TV sales, particularly from premium models.
“Customers are increasingly comfortable shopping for TVs online, where they can easily find product information and customer reviews to pick the best TV for their needs,” he offered. “Beyond just retailing, Amazon has also evolved into a broader marketing platform that TV vendors are leveraging to reach customers who shop across all channels — evidenced by the fact that 56 percent of adults who searched for TVs online did so on Amazon last year, according to ComScore.”
Amazon continues to further evolve the online TV selling proposition by offering “free pre-sale live support on premium HDTVs, free post-sale tech support, premium installation, and rich product videos that highlight the benefits and design of premium HDTVs,” he added.
Hartman pointed out that Amazon is also adding to America’s adoption of advanced television technologies like smart TV, offering “complete smart-TV solutions to stream and store content,” including its Amazon Instant Video, Prime Instant Video and Amazon Cloud Drive streaming services.
As manufacturers begin to roll out the first 4K Ultra High-Definition TVs, Hartman said Amazon is again in a comfortable position, drawing from a large customer pool of generally more affluent early adopters.
“Amazon.com was an early leader in 3D education and adoption, and we believe we can play the same role with 4K by providing clear guides and FAQs,” Hartman said. “As an example, we recently launched a 4K education page (Amazon.com/4KUltraHD) to help customers understand 4K Ultra HD, both with and without native content.”
Hartman said that while any brick-and-mortar store can provide a live 4K demo, Amazon has mustered its online resources to help educate consumers on issues like:
• Where can I get 4K content?
• Will the TV experience improve for standard or regular HD content?
• How do features differ between manufacturers?
• Will my 4K TV be future proof, or could standards change?
The company, however, declined to answer if or how it intended to deliver native 4K content through its various portals, by invoking its policy of not commenting on future company directions.
“Customers will find researching 4K on Amazon.com helpful and different than only viewing 4K in a store with native content,” Hartman said. “We will be offering a broad selection of 4K Ultra HD TVs across every major brand in addition to 4K devices (up-converting Blu-ray Disc players, 4K-ready receivers) and have already seen interest in 4K on our platform.”
The effort is not unnoticed by manufacturers. Jay Vandenbree, LG Electronics USA home entertainment senior VP, said, “Amazon’s always been a good partner with LG, in that we work together to keep ahead of the dynamics of Internetonly retailing. Communication is at a high level and, regardless of the situation, we’ve always charted a path that is good for Amazon, LG and the consumer. In many ways, they’ve helped us understand the Internet environment, as we’ve helped them understand the manufacturers’ environment.”
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.