We reached out to top distributors and distribution confederations to take the current temperature of the CE industry. See Part I of this exchange.
TWICE: What is the biggest challenge still facing your brick-and-mortar customers? How are you helping them address it?
Rich Hume, Tech Data: One of the biggest challenges that we continue to see for our brick-and-mortar customers is inventory control and pricing competitiveness from online marketplaces. One of the ways Tech Data helps our consumer-focused customers take cost out of their model is by offering just-in-time inventory and end-user fulfillment.
From a broader perspective, digital transformation and the journey to the cloud and other next-generation technologies are top-of-mind for many of our customers, while all of our customers are looking to determine how they can improve their overall margin profiles.
As they evolve, we help our customers differentiate themselves through services and solutions tailored to specific market segments, such as the SMB [small- to medium-business] market. We view these challenges as opportunities to demonstrate our collective value and expertise for our customers.
Dennis Holzer, PowerHouse Alliance: The biggest challenge facing our brick-and-mortar customers is continuing to keep our dealers engaged with their customers. We are addressing this issue by making sure a significant number of products we sell require professional installation, or have a “do it for me” aspect to them.
The PowerHouse Alliance is renowned for our ongoing training initiatives and events to help educate dealers, and teach them about the latest products we have in stock, how to integrate new products into old systems, and to ensure they are keeping their customers up to date.
Today’s brick-and-mortar dealers know they can’t just open the doors and expect customers to be waiting to enter. We encourage our members and dealers to push effective and insightful marketing campaigns that speak to their customers, and to reach out to them on system upgrades and new technologies in order to keep the conversation going and solidify dealer-customer relationships.
Tate Morgan, Petra Industries: As the retail landscape changes, Petra continues its commitment to redefining distribution.
Having a good assortment of products and the ability to quickly adapt to what customers need is key. With our centralized, state-of-the art distribution center here in Edmond, Okla., our shipping and receiving capabilities have reached new heights.
Our attention to the needs of our customers and partners becomes sharper and more efficient every day, during regular business hours and beyond. Our dedicated support team constantly seeks ways to improve the online shopping experience, and we’re getting rave reviews. When placing an order, customers can speak to live, dedicated sales reps, or place orders online 24/7 through our robust website at Petra.com.
Fred Towns, New Age Electronics: Hot categories like the connected home are catching on, but education on the workings and features of the products still seem to be a challenge in stores. Consumers need to be able to understand how products will better their day-to-day lives before they buy them. To help retailers address this, we continue to offer specialized training for customers on the newest technologies.
Showrooming is another continued challenge. We are working with vendors on interactive displays and bundling to help with in-store sales; grabbing the consumer’s attention at retail and selling a complete solution is more important than ever.
Trevor May, D&H Distributing: One of the challenges any brick-and-mortar will face is a limited selection of inventory due to the physical nature of a storefront.
D&H likes to think of itself as the “infinite aisle” for retailers and e-tailers. Our customers can offer an expanded online assortment, allowing them to deliver a breadth of products that far surpasses the confines of their shelf space. This gives consumers an additional incentive to shop, and allows smaller and more independent retailers to be more competitive with larger e-commerce-based companies.
D&H helps give new capabilities to its customers by leveraging a comprehensive product line across a diverse range of categories, vendors and models, supported by best-in-class logistics, service and support.
Helge Fischer, Catalyst AV: Amazon, and supplying [our customers] with solutions that make sense in the Amazon battle.
The biggest problem for the brick-and-mortar stores is the disappearance of the brick-and-mortar stores. They are not handed down to the next generation and very few, if any, open up a retail location — though there does seem to be more high-end, by-appointment design center locations popping up around the country.
The squeeze is on between Amazon, Best Buy and the custom channel. As usual, you don’t make it if you are in the middle, where overhead-per-sales dollar is high.
Curt Hayes, Capitol: Our customers are finding it’s an uphill effort to find qualified staff. Though the problem exists at every level, it is especially acute when filling sales and service positions that require candidates who are familiar with the technology or are quick to learn.
To help on the latter point, Capitol offers an aggressive, multifaceted training program for experienced pros and newcomers alike. From extensive “on-campus” and off-site training sessions to detailed webinars and concise “Minute With Mike” video overviews on our YouTube channel, Capitol is committed to helping our customers and their team grow their knowledge base with the tools that best fit their needs as well as their schedules.
Seth Evenson, AVAD: The biggest challenge facing brick-and-mortar customers is having the right inventory, all the time. That’s where AVAD’s “just in time” model really benefits the retailer. With twenty locations across North America, we can help get them what they need quickly.
With our award-winning return and exchange policy, as well as top-notch training and tech support, we can help the retailer if they encounter any issues with the product.
Warren Chaiken, Almo: The biggest challenge still facing brick-and-mortar customers is getting folks into the stores. To address this we’ve begun to better align and merge our sales and marketing functions, to reach consumers in new ways. For example, we teamed up with Sharp Appliances on an enhanced strategy of uniting our sales and marketing efforts, over the course of the last six months, and have seen a double digit percent average account increase in multiple local markets.