Regional Retailers To Open Sony Merchandise Areas

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New York - Sony's Vaio IT products division has developed a new in-store sales concept to boost a retailer's ability to sell Sony computers and the variety of peripherals and CE products that can be networked to these devices.

Starting this month will place Sony merchandise areas in the stores of about eight regional retailers as part of the company's new Value Network Dealer program. The Value Network Dealer initially will be implemented through a pilot program involving two New York City retailers, said Mike Abrary, Sony's mobile PC group's product management director. The concept combines the Vaio merchandise area, which will resemble similar store-within-a-store efforts and include in-depth training for the retailer's computer sales associates.

'Explaining how CE and PC products are networked together is hard and we felt that some retailers were not touting the best features of products like rewritable DVD,' Abrary said, explaining the genesis of the program.

In many cases the only details consumers receive about a product are a few lines in the retailer's weekly ad circular, he said. The merchandise areas will include Vaio PC and notebook computers plus a wide range of computer peripherals and connected CE products. The size of the areas will depend upon the store size and the retailer's requirements.

The sales training will take place in Sony's San Diego facility and include a one week 'boot camp' of all things Vaio, Abrary said. The first training session took place during the last week of May. The sales associates will receive Sony Vaio certified specialist badges to wear, financial incentives and continued online training.

Ahron Schachter, vice president and general manager of DataVision in New York, said the Sony areas should be up and running in a month and will be comprised of two islands running Vaio products and networked through a Sony RoomLink media server. DataVision sales associates have already completed their training and Schachter is anxious for the program to start because it will benefit the store on so many levels.

'We are no longer selling a box but an environment. This will give people a compelling reason to buy a new PC and give us better attach rates for peripherals,' Schachter said.

Abrary said only retailers with directed sales staffs that sell higher end products were considered for inclusion in the Value Network Program.


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