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Sirius, XM Readying Dealer Support, Plan Kiosks To Demo Services

Satellite radio companies XM and Sirius will strengthen their national rollouts with dealer-support programs that include kiosks to demonstrate live reception.

Both companies, however, said they are still discussing with retailers to finalize training programs and POP materials to suit dealer needs.

The national rollouts are scheduled for the second quarter of 2001.

“We are in active discussions with our retailers on the best way to demonstrate XM, the best way to train their sales force, and how to partner with key hardware manufacturers to maximize sales,” said Dan Murphy, XM’s retail marketing and distribution VP. “We’re planning to make kiosks and the necessary training programs accessible to retailers of all sizes who sign a distribution agreement with XM.”

“We will work with radio manufacturers and others to ensure merchandising is executed at retail,” he added.

A live demo might not be possible in all locations, an XM spokesman added, because of signal losses resulting from long runs of cable to a rooftop antenna, but the spokesman was optimistic, noting that XM investor DirecTV has been able to do it.

For its part, Sirius is putting together a kit with antenna and cabling to deliver signal to its kiosks, said receiver marketing VP Doug Wilsterman. “We’ve figured out a way to do it,” he said. Dealers will be able to split the signal to drive receivers in the floorstanding kiosk and in their usual demo boards.

“We’ll work a program around the kiosk. We’ll make it easy for a guy to get into it,” said Wilsterman. CE retailers can put a kiosk in a high-traffic area to attract a demographic that usually doesn’t walk back to a car audio room. Satellite radio, he said, “cuts across demographic lines.”

Sirius is also “putting together a dealer-support organization, including merchandisers and detailers,” he added.

Sirius will make its displays and POP materials available to dealers in the second quarter when commercial service is launched nationwide, Wilsterman said. Consumer advertising will begin in Q2 and ramp up as more product becomes available. Event marketing will also be a part of the promo campaign.

XM “is shooting for a national product launch at the end of the second quarter,” Murphy said. National consumer advertising could begin as early as the first quarter, “but you may not see it until the second quarter.”

When service is launched, “you probably won’t see a dedicated Sirius home receiver,” Wilsterman said, but he noted that “the Internet will be a huge part of our strategy.”

XM, on the other hand, is still “onboard for home and transportable products at launch” from its manufacturer partners, Murphy said. The transportable won’t operate on batteries.

Because antenna placement indoors is critical to good reception, Murphy cited the potential of wireless technologies to allow for flexible placement.

In repeater markets, “reception will be like FM radio,” senior VP of sales and marketing Stephen Cook said during a summertime interview.

Unlike an FM radio, however, the antenna will have to be near a window, senior engineering and operations VP John Wormington added at the time. A home antenna might be similar to the 5-inch-tall ballpoint-pen style antenna expected for cars.

In areas where consumers receive signals only from XM’s two geostationary satellites, “you’ll probably need an antenna close to a south-facing window,” Cook said. In some situations, an exterior antenna might be needed, particularly in buildings incorporating metallized windows, Wormington said.