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Executive Insight: What’s Next For The Retail Environment In Home Audio?

In an on-demand world, how can the consumer electronics industry continue creating immersive experiences and demonstrations?

Tony Ostrom, President, WiSA Association

It’s no secret—the retail industry has become an on-demand marketplace. Today’s consumers are seeking instant gratification, presenting significant opportunities and challenges for CE and home audio retailers. Immediate delivery is paramount; for example, Amazon Prime is a term that nearly everyone is familiar with and its subscription program has found its way into how many of us conduct our shopping.

But moving to a more complete on-demand offering isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all approach for retailers that sell home audio products. The challenge is to create moving, visceral, emotional experiences through audio and video entertainment.

For a consumer to understand the possibilities, they often need to experience a demonstration in person. We tend to rely largely on reviews, influencers and consumer ratings, which are all valid means to gain insights into the capabilities of a product or a complete home cinema system. However, the best tools are consumers’ eyes and ears, and the industry facilitating good demonstrations will continue to be key going forward.

Several retailers are taking on the challenge by creating great in-store experiences featuring complete system bundles showing interoperability of products from multiple brands. As an example, WiSA Certified Retailer Electronic Express has dedicated floor space to the wireless home cinema category showing how TVs, transmitters, and multichannel audio systems can easily work together to create truly immersive experiences. These retailers are additionally creating online storefronts to tell the same story, educate on the opportunity and products, and entice consumers to visit retail stores for an audio demonstration.

Beohome Experience Store, Boston, MA. (image credit: CEPro)

Brands are also contributing to the experiential sale initiative. WiSA Association member Bang & Olufsen is doing just that with the opening of the Beohome Experience Store in Boston. The brand experience store allows shoppers to immerse themselves in the company’s high-end audio products and TVs. This interactive, in-person experience gives potential buyers a look into what it would be like to actually own the product versus relying solely on reviews.

Another WiSA member, Hisense, has embraced the opportunity to let people experience their products in their own homes risk free by allowing them to test their new Laser TVs, with a 100-day free trial or money back guarantee. WiSA Member LG is promoting their WiSA Ready TVs and displaying a suite of products at, showing consumers a seamless product experience to improve every touchpoint in their home.

The pandemic has had a major impact on consumer behavior for the industry. People are looking for ways to improve their home environment, whether that be adding a home gym, creating a home cinema experience to stream the latest blockbuster release, or taking at-home gaming to a new level.

For the CE industry specifically, be it online or in a retail environment, the focus must remain on finding ways that new and seasoned consumers alike can be introduced to and transformed by quality sound. Dedicated retail demos are vital to the future of showcasing the differences between TV or even soundbar sound and immersive, spatial audio from 5.1 to Dolby Atmos.

It’s beneficial to keep in mind that due to every home layout being different, there can be risks to making uninformed purchases online – knowing there’s a chance that the product might need to be returned because of the sound quality, or the product itself not being exactly what was expected. Consumers have varying degrees of needs when it comes to the purchase experience, so brands and retailers should work together and continue to perfect both the online and in-person environments.

Technology within the CE industry is ever-evolving, and that’s what makes it so enticing to consumers. For brands to drive and improve the retail experience, we must continue discovering new opportunities, such as more immersive brand experiences, enabling consumers to not only encounter great audio in person, but to then immediately receive all of the help they need in considering the factors that are important for their purchase. From performance to price or from size to style, we can help the consumer buy the perfect system for their needs, and in turn help us all to continue to build this category.

See also: Executive Insight: Is There A Gamer In The House?