Playing Field Shifts, Again, For Industry's Leading Buying Groups

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If there’s one constant in the consumer electronics industry – and of late, the major appliance business too – it is change.

New York — If there’s one constant in the consumer electronics industry – and of late, the major appliance business too – it is change.

Not only that, but in apparent adherence to Moore’s Law, the pace of change is also accelerating. Greatly.

And it is happening across the industry landscape. In retail, the growth of e-commerce in general and Amazon in particular has permanently altered the shopping dynamic. For vendors, merchants and consumers alike, the concomitant loss of Circuit City, the restructuring of RadioShack, the struggles at Sears, and consolidation among regional and independent dealers has only added to the disruption.

On the product front, TV’s role as the centerpiece of the CE universe has altered as the challenging economy has delayed new household formation, and a new generation of consumers appears more engrossed by their smart phones, apps and streaming services than their parents’ 65- inch displays.

At the same time, fueled by faster data speeds and more powerful handsets, the mobile revolution is also fostering the connected home, and indeed the connected everything, which promises to transform not only the CE business but the global society.

Faced with these seismic shifts are the nation’s buying groups – coalitions of for- and not-for-profit independent retailers whose mission is to lead their minions safely and profitably through a chaotic marketplace.

Built upon the premise of providing volume discounts to mom-and-pops to level the playing field with big-box competitors, these organizations have long since evolved beyond merchandising. Today their toolsets include the marketing, advertising, web hosting, financial, logistical, educational and business consulting services needed by independents to survive amid unprecedented change.

In the process, the groups themselves have had to continually reinvent and reposition themselves in order to be where the hockey puck will appear in the coming months and years. But reflective of the rapidly evolving industry, the last six months have been one of the most dynamic periods in recent memory for these organizations, which have transitioned to new leadership, forged new alliances and chart new pathways to profitability for their small-business members.

In the following articlesTWICE reviews some of the latest developments in the buying groups’ quests to sharpen old skill sets and, more crucially, craft new ones:

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