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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.

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.