NORTH ANDOVER, MASS. — It’s certainly been a busy year full of changes for the Mobile Electronics group.
Formerly the Mobile Electronics Retailers Association (MERA), the membership association purchased the In Car Experts (ICE) buying group in February, and subsequently underwent a name change and restructuring just six months later.
ICE was purchased chiefly because of the technology it possessed, said Chris Cook, Mobile Electronics president, most notably a national website that tied to more than 100 dealer websites and an ability to update those websites on the fly. Nearly all of the ICE members made the switch over to the new group, with the exception of a handful of dealers that had practiced transshipping, he said.
The new association, which took its name from MERA’s in-house “Mobile Electronics” publication and is not, Cook stressed, a buying group, now features approximately 1,100 members and four membership levels: Silver, Gold, Platinum and Diamond. All former ICE retailers are now Diamond members and must meet several layers of criteria, including maintaining MAP pricing and having a professional point-of-sale system, to maintain the status.
With the acquisition of ICE, the group restructured in August to eliminate duplication. Cook, who was formerly president of MERA and manager of ICE, became president of Mobile Electronics. Kerry Moyer left the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) to become the group’s strategic partnerships VP.
Mobile Electronics is the producer of the annual KnowledgeFest training show, held last month in Indianapolis. Not content with sitting on its laurels, the group plans to add a second event this year, to be held Aug. 15-18 at the Hilton Anatole Resort & Convention Center in Dallas. This is the first time the group will conduct two events in one year, Cook said, and it will feature additional training and educational programs.
The summer event will also mark the launch of a national consumer website offering product videos and advertising, as well as a fit guide with vendor-partnered products. Mobile Electronics currently runs InCarExperts.com, a site that produces about 1,000 leads per month for the 150 Diamond-level members, Cook said. With the new site, the group is expanding these leads and services to all 1,100 members.
Mobile Electronics has also debuted a new affinity services program for its members, known as MEGSavings. com. The site offers industry-specific discounts, such as deals on Granger tools, HP computers, ADP payroll processing, FedEx shipping and propane and gasoline.
The group has also beefed up its SEO services for its websites and its members’ sites, bringing in the Altruik professional SEO service.