Sony Style, Sony's wholly owned retail chain, found itself in a bind last year when alarms protecting its mobile phone "phone bar" displays began going off for no apparent reason.
The intermittent alarms were creating havoc on sales floors across the chain, as shoppers were distracted from shopping and sales staffers were forced to leave their customers to turn off the alarms.
Disarming the electrical systems was only a temporary fix, as it deprived shoppers of the opportunity to try out the handsets' features, potentially impacting sales, and exposed the unprotected phones to the threat of shoplifting.
To address the emergency, Sony Style brought in Vanguard Products Group, a manufacturer of power-alarmed retail merchandising systems based here. Vanguard was asked to install its G-3 system on a "rush turnaround" basis, which initially required retrofits at 40 stores at a rate of 10 stores per week, later expanded to all 60 Sony Style locations.
The retrofits themselves required necessary product assemblies and the manufacture and delivery of 40 store kits which included customized installation guides.
The G-3 alarm system was chosen for its reliability as well as its trickle-charge feature, which provides a continuous charge specific to each handset model so that store personnel no longer needed to charge each phone overnight with manufacturers' multiple AC adapters. The G-3 tethers each phone to the Sony Style phone bar with a retractable cord that carries the charge while preventing theft.
Sony and Vanguard crossed paths again when the rollout of the manufacturers' latest line of HD camcorders prompted Circuit City to develop a new display system that would safeguard the products, provide product-specific messaging on an adjoining LCD panel, and would woo other vendors to participate in the program.
Vanguard's engineering developed a "pick-up-and-play" display that met all the criteria and could be installed within Circuit City's storewide fixture program encompassing 700 stores last fall.
At Circuit's request, Vanguard later supplemented the fixturing with a fixed display for digital-SLR cameras that elicited product information from the LCD panel via push buttons, without having to pick up the actual product.