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Sound Advice Re-Entering Car Audio; Staples, Add Wireless


Advice, Staples and Fry’s are among
the growing roster of retailers that are
entering new product categories to help
boost revenue amid sluggish demand.

Sound Advice, the A/V specialty retailer
that re-opened earlier this year
after closing along with corporate parent
Tweeter, will begin selling car audio
SKUs in September. Dan Jeancola, who
has a history with Sound Advice and
Tweeter, will head up the division.

Peter Beshouri, Sound Advice founder
and CEO, told TWICE the decision to
return to the category stemmed from its
popular demand. “The store has been
open for three to four months, and about
a full third of the customers coming in
are previous customers of Sound Advice
and customers for car audio. That
really surprised me, frankly, because I
wasn’t sure if there was still a real market
for car audio.”

Beshouri said that Jeancola showed
him all of the new technology in car audio.
“I was very impressed, and it was
clear [that car audio was] even a little
more technical than it’s been, which
is probably why some of the big box
[stores] have scaled back. It’s a terrific
service that allows us … to do something
other people can’t or aren’t willing
to do.”

He added that car audio will also once
again serve as a way to reach the younger
clientele. “That was always a helpful
part of the Sound Advice history.”

For Staples and Fry’s, wireless represents
the latest addition to their product
offerings. The No. 1 office supply chain
plans to roll out a pilot wireless program
to about 500 stores by year’s end, while
multiregional Fry’s is adding the category
to its e-commerce site through a
third-party arrangement with Simplexity.

Staples’ retail president Demos
Parneros said the pilot is configured as
an in-store three-carrier shop featuring
phones and plans by AT&T, T-Mobile
and Verizon Wireless, and has already
been tested in 100 stores. The wireless
departments are manned by dedicated
staffers who are hired and receive extensive
training by a third-party provider
which shares in revenue.

Staples, which trialed a small-scale
mobile pilot 10 years ago, plans to roll
the new concept out quickly to 400
stores in time for back-to-school season,
and will add it to another 100 locations
in the fourth quarter, Parneros
told analysts at an investor conference
last month.

The expansion comes as the company
is cutting the size of its flagship stores by
15 percent, from 18,000 square feet to
between 15,000 square feet and 16,000
square feet on average. Staples will pare
back its furniture selection to accommodate
the CE expansion within a smaller
footprint, Parneros said, and stores will
be converted or closed as 500 lease
renewals, or one-third of its store base,
come up over the next three years.

Meanwhile, Simplexity, parent of popular
wireless e-tailer Wirefly, has built
and launched an online wireless store
for Fry’s. The site utilizes Simplexity’s
fully integrated e-commerce platform
that incorporates secure shopping,
rapid activation, complete order fulfillment,
as well as real-time order status
and tracking, the partners said.

“Simplexity’s fully customizable turnkey
solution for selling and activating
cellphones and service plans online is
second to none, and we are excited to
deliver our seamless shopping experience
to Fry’s,” said Marc Tolkov, Simplexity’s
business development senior

– Additional reporting by
Alan Wolf