ICE, Nationwide Launch Online Programs

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SWEDESBORO, N.J. — In Car Experts (ICE) and Specialty Electronics Nationwide (SEN) are both introducing new Web-based programs for independent dealers.

ICE’s initiative is a “Web Sites for Members” program designed to help the buying group’s 12-volt dealers operate high-quality, easy-maintenance Web sites at lower costs and with less time spent on backroom operations.

Web sites and hosting are included in ICE membership and feature a complete back-end system that allows members to upload images, post new product specials and current events, and collect email addresses for e-newsletters. Consumers can also post testimonials on the sites, and customized vendor ads automatically rotate on the home page, informing shoppers of newly released products and technologies.

Dealers control much of the content, while ICE will regularly update product categories, seasonal items, videos and group specials to relieve members of such routine maintenance. What’s more, dealers that already operate a Web site can add a secondary site that appeals to a diff erent demographic, the group said.

“It’s 2010 and having a Web site is no longer optional,” said Rob Elliott, executive director of the 150-member, $250 million group. “Not only must the Web site ooze professionalism, but it must also be kept current and updated regularly. The more backroom burdens ICE can take off our members’ shoulders, the more our members can focus on maintaining their sales floor and install-bay excellence.”

ICE member Brian Layton of Sound FX in Lewes, Del., agreed. “The beauty of the site” — located at

— “is much more than it looks. The ease of use allows us to keep our current and potential customers up to date with what we are doing.”

Separately, SEN, the Nationwide Marketing Group division for specialty CE dealers, will provide two free Webinars on the benefits of buying-group membership, hosted by SEN membership director Barrie McCorkle.

“Many independent dealers may not be aware of the advantages a buying group membership can bring,” observed Jeannette Howe, executive director of the $1 billion, 460-plus member group. “Deep deals with manufacturing and distribution partners are what attract dealers to buying groups … We also offer consumer financing, warranty programs, Internet marketing services, education, training, networking and so much more to help our members compete effectively against mass merchants.”

The Webinars will be held July 15 and July 29, from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. EDT. To pre-register, go to

and click on “Join Meeting.” The Webinar ID for the July 15 event is 593-854-865, and the Webinar ID for the July 29 event is 160-074-368.

SEN and its parent Nationwide group will hold their biannual Prime- Time! buying show and conference Aug. 15-18 at the Gaylord National in National Harbor, Md., outside Washington D.C. For more information, contact McCorkle at (970) 984-0545 or


In other Nationwide news, RentDirect, the group’s 350-member rental division, has added IT services firm Support Squad to its vendor roster.

According to RentDirect executive director James MacAlpine, computers are the fastest-growing segment in the rent-to-own industry, having eclipsed appliance sales over the past five years. “Most rental dealers do not have the manpower in their stores to handle the technical service issues needed to support computer sales,” he noted.


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