Retailers Hang Hopes On Mobile Apps, Smart TVs


Las Vegas - Retail executives participating in the annual TWICE Retail Roundtable pointed out the unbalanced course sales took during the holiday selling season along with giving insight into a wide variety of topics.

• Stephen Baker, industry analysis VP, The NPD Group
• Rob Eby, VP of Purchasin D& H
• Marcia Grand, VP/publisher, TWICE
• Noah Herschman, senior director, chief electronics merchant, eBay
• Jeannette Howe, executive director, Specialty Electronics Nationwide
• Bernard Luthi, senior VP,
• Jim Ristow, executive VP, BrandSource/Home Entertainment Source
• Paul Ryder, VP, CE & wireless,
• Dan Schwab, co-president, D&H Distributing
• Fred Towns, president, New Age Electronics
• Michael Vitelli, Americas president/corporate executive VP, Best Buy
• Alan Wolf, senior editor, TWICE\
• Dave Workman, executive director/COO, PRO Group

While the panel's discussion was wide-ranging, several salient points were brought into focus.

Although tablets, headphones, audio and smartphones were dollar and unit leaders, more commoditized categories like TVs and digital cameras were down.

"When we looked at the balance of everything, the ups could not offset the downs," said Dave Workman of PRO Group.

On the positive side, lower profile categories like headphones and all-in-one PCs did very well. Headphones in particular experienced sales of $300 million during the holidays, primarily due to the products becoming a fashion statement.

Fred Towns, New Age Electronics, said headphones are making audio exciting again particularly branded models.

The group pointed out the importance of social media in connecting with customers and the importance mobile shopping apps now play.

Noah Herschman,eBay's senior director, chief electronics merchant, said mobile app sales experienced a six-fold increase and now comprise somewhere around 10 percent of eBay's sales.

Best Buy's Michael Vitelli agreed that mobile apps are important tools. "You have to be where the customer is going to be," he said.

There was also a general consensus that educating consumers on the benefits of connecting devices to a smart TV is one of the few hopes the industry has to boost flagging TV sales. BrandSource's Jim Ristow said his partners are experimenting with demo areas that show the possibilities available with today's products. These initial efforts have been successful and the program will be expanded.

More detailed and complete coverage of the TWICE Retail Roundtable will be printed in an upcoming issue of TWICE.


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