What other categories should CE retailers and installers begin carrying this year?
David Kaplan, DDG:
This is a great question. There are definitely trends that will affect what we stock and how we sell it. We now live in the era of “killer apps” that allow consumers with broadband unprecedented opportunities for accessibility and interactivity with their homes.
As stated earlier, we are seeing trends in selling affordable retro-fit solutions in new “sweet spots” such as content delivery, security and energy savings.
For example, rather than buying into a security system with third-party monitoring, consumers can purchase a system that not only allows them to monitor their home (or homes) but control them as well. As a result, we’ve got to become the experts and learn how to combine the various platforms and protocols that make the digital home a possibility.
This is not just Wi-Fi, but Powerline and MOCA and Z-Wave and Zigbee (et al.). Of course, this also means we have to identify the vendors and stock the parts that allow us to make the networked, accessible, secure, digitalcontent- driven home and lifestyle a reality.
Michael Flink, ADI North America:
Dealers need to continue to focus on the up-sell, cross-sell and add-on solutions. Many products in the home electronics market are becoming commoditized, and it is important for the installer to focus on the needs of their customers and providing a complete solution.
Dealers can and should diversify into new markets to gain growth opportunities. For example, a dealer that is already installing A/V can easily offer their customers security, home solutions, networking, etc. They are already in the home, making this a warm lead for new business.
High-performance audio is an area installers can focus on and up-sell to higher- end, more expensive speakers. Highperformance audio is exciting again and dealers should embrace the trend, as it will differentiate themselves from the large retailers, and will put more dollars in their pockets.
Installers need to remain focused on marketing their technology, offering the total solution and getting back to the roots of providing product demonstrations. Users are more technical savvy, and they want to see the “cool factor” associated with the product.
Fred Towns, New Age Electronics:
The bigger picture for all retailers is making sure they are prepared for the mobile-enabled consumer. They will be looking for storage and carrying devices to put all their new cool toys into. The commuter backpack will evolve again — being lighter and more stylish — which opens up more opportunity to pursue female consumers.
Security products that tie into smartphones and health care webenabled products will be even more important. Even bigger than that will be products that enable consumers’ mobile devices to interact with accessories such as Bluetooth storage sharing that allows a family on a long plane trip the ability to each watch their own movies from one storage device. Lastly, retailers should continue to have software and software solutions in stock.
Jeff Kussard, Capitol:
Similar to 2010, No New (Long) Wires continues to gain traction, thanks in no small part to product announcements from Google and Apple that make the concept of moving media without adding additional wires much more appealing to mainstream consumers. This growing trend is carving a path for consumer- and installer-centric products that offer no new (long) wire media distribution, IP networking and home energy-management options.
Tom Roper, SED International:
Retailers and installers should sell any devices that will connect Internet to the electronic sources in the house: routers, link sticks, set-top boxes, etc. Dealers should invest in tablet PCs that have apps for remote controls and Wi-Fi.
Dennis Holzer, Powerhouse Alliance:
CE retailers should be stocking tablets and all products that utilize Wi-Fi and wireless capabilities. Displaying and demonstrating the wireless connectivity capabilities of audio receivers, related products and higherend TVs that have IP capabilities will significantly increase sales and should be stocked.
Additional categories such as security products, cameras and DVRs will also significantly increase sales because of their connectivity. Lastly, these product additions will also “help” offset some of the lower profitability issues that we have all been faced with.
Warren Chaiken, Almo:
As the delivery of content around the home becomes network-based, CE retailers and installers need to offer networkable home entertainment products as well as network infrastructure products. It is also critical that retailers educate or add sales associates that can put together connected solutions for the customer’s home.