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CEA, TraQline Discuss CE Retail Trends

Steve Koenig, The Consumer Electronics Association’s (CEA) industry analysis director, and Eric Voyer, TraQline VP, made a presentation called “The State of CE Retail: Five Key Trends Changing the Way CE is Sold” at the CEA Industry Update at the Digital Downtown event, held here Thursday.

TraQline is a retail tracking survey that queries 150,000 U.S. consumers quarterly about their online and in-store purchasing habits. The survey is a product of market research firm The Stevenson Company, the same firm that partners with TWICE each year to compile our annual Top 100 CE Retailer Report. The presenters used the TWICE report along with CEA market data in the presentation as well.

Koenig and Voyer presented five trends they found in CE retailing today. The five topics discussed were:

  • Channel options: The presenters said there are more non-traditional CE shopping options available to consumers today, but that the majority of consumers still make their CE purchases through traditional outlets.
  • Service: On the one hand, there is less service available at “low-touch outlets like Costco, selling on assortment and price,” Koenig said, while traditional CE retailers appear to be making more of an effort to attach services to their sales.
  • Revenue sources: Koenig said margins for hardware are “drying up” due to factors like price deflation, but that there is still opportunity for new revenue from attachment sales of services and accessories at retail.
  • The role of technology: Technology tools for both the consumer and the retailer are playing a major role in the process of making of a sale today, Koenig noted. Retailers easily collect customer data to target their customers more effectively than ever before. On the customer’s side, the Web makes them more educated about products and more able to comparison shop than ever before.
  • Innovation: Koenig said there is “more experimentation, creativity and innovation with merchandising, store concepts and selling.” Examples he cited were the reformatting of Wal-Mart’s CE departments and Circuit City’s The City stores, among others.

In addition to their five main points, the duo also highlighted some of TraQline’s key findings.

For instance, the survey found that consumers are spending more on discounters and that their spending in such stores went up 2.6 percent in a year. It also found that the majority of electronics/appliance stores and computer specialty stores saw declines over the past year. The presenters credited the computer specialty category’s suffering with “losses at CompUSA and with Dell’s weakening brand and changes in distribution.”

TraQline’s survey also collected data from consumers on what kinds of stores they’re willing to buy CE products from. While big-box stores Best Buy, Target and Wal-Mart held the lead among consumers with a respective 70 percent, 63 percent and 63 percent of shoppers reporting willingness to buy CE products from those stores, Koenig and Voyer also pointed out that non-traditional stores, such as The Home Depot and Bed, Bath and Beyond, as well as Ikea, also ranked significantly.

For more on the TraQline/CEA presentation, visit