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CE Retailers Need To Claim Wearables Turf

By now I hope you’ve seen the Sleepy’s commercial, either on TV or on, that shows a fast-food chain selling mattresses on the side. The regional bedding retailer also produced one with an auto parts store trying to sell mattresses.

Both are funny and make the point of the retailer’s slogan, that Sleepy’s staff are “The Only Mattress Professionals.” Yes, it probably arrived a couple of years or so after retailers of all stripes, including many electronics/appliance dealers, began competing against them. But Sleepy’s, in its ad campaign, is aggressively claiming its turf.

What’s the lesson for electronics or electronics/ appliance retailers? Claim your turf too, but with action over fancy ad campaigns, and not necessarily in mattresses either. Instead, make a strong commitment in the biggest up-and-coming electronics category, wearables.

During the fourth quarter, this industry’s retailers should not let wearables go the way of cellphones and video games before them, where they were deemed “not profitable.” As a result, many retailers missed not only store traffic but the opportunity to sell to new consumers and be the go-to place for new CE categories in their markets.

Yes, wearables are smart watches, but they’re also action cams, trackers for kids and pets, and, significantly, health and fitness devices.

In August, TWICE held a webinar called “Placing Your Bets, The Future of Wearable Tech,” hosted by editor in chief John Laposky, and one slide in particular hit home with me: Jack Cutts, senior manager of business intelligence with the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), showed one called “Where Do Consumers Shop for Fitness Devices?”

Most of the myriad retail channels mentioned were brick-and-mortar retailers. That’s the good news. Three of the 16 channels listed were described as electronics stores of some type.

But the other 13 are channels that sell either some CE currently or none at all – TV shopping channels, drug/grocery stores, fitness centers and sporting goods stores. So the time is now to show your expertise in selling these new, exciting items.

Jerry Satoren, NATM’s newly named executive director, told TWICE that wearables “will be a very hot space in Q4 that will generate a ton of store traffic along with a significant level of sales.” He added, “There should be enough volume this year to make this competitive category a profitable one as well.”

At last month’s TWICE Wearables seminar, hosted by senior editor Joe Palenchar at CTIA’s Super Mobility Week, panelist Timothy Dailey, national product manager for wireless chain Cellular Connection, said displaying wearables in the store provides the retailer with a great opportunity to explain and discuss the products with customers.

“It’s all about finding that thing about the customer to make the device sticky long term. It’s getting [the devices] into their hands … and making the customer feel as if it’s something they need,” Dailey said.

Those types of transactions build customer loyalty, store traffic, profitability and, most importantly, create a statement that your store or chain is the place for today’s new and exciting CE products.

Isn’t that why many of you got into this crazy business in the first place?

Steve Smith was the longtime editor in chief of TWICE and is now editor at large. He can be reached directly at [email protected].