TWICE: How can retailers emerge from these economic doldrums in one piece?
Tim Coakley, DBL: It's survival of the fittest! With consumer spending at its worst in decades, retailers need to differentiate themselves from their competition by offering the best quality of customer service, displaying the largest assortment of products, and finding purchasing deals that put your price point lower than the competition.
Rely on the resources that will improve your bottom line — distributors are an excellent partner with their large product assortment and low prices. DBL recently launched our 20th Anniversary campaign, the most aggressive marketing and sales initiative in DBL history. Throughout the year, our customers will be exposed to some of the best prices in the industry through flyers, online and simply asking their sales rep.
Mike Cost, Brightstar: The retailers that succeed in this down economy are those that examine their supply chains to root out unnecessary costs and overspending.
We advise retailers to streamline sales, marketing and supply-chain processes to encourage visibility throughout the value chain.
Stay ahead of product shortfalls and optimize inventory levels on the shelf to minimize missed sales.
Hold tighter inventory levels in your DCs and stores. Outsource areas of category management that aren't core competencies to third parties that specialize in them.
And finally, invest in areas that create competitive advantage. Economic upheaval can create openings to attack your competition.
Jonathan Elster, SED: Take advantage of the value that distribution provides, look for opportunities to expand offerings, and focus on adding on to existing business. Our sales representatives are trained to help dealers identify opportunities to grow their sales and profits.
Steve Honig, Volutone: Dealers can offer the personal attention that the big-box stores cannot. Most specialty retailers have a well-educated sales staff and that should be their selling point.
Home theater is confusing to most, and many need guidance. I know many retail owners have also renegotiated their leases, changed pay plans and buy from distribution rather than warehouse heavy inventories.
Ray Navarette, ArchBrook Laguna: It is critical that retailers provide the customer with a complete solution, not just sell them a box. There is a great opportunity for retailers to partner with distribution to offer accessories to complete the product experience.
Brett Neiderman, Edge: They must be aggressive and creative — customer outreach is critical.
Contacting existing customers with product updates, attractive, affordable payment options, or ways to improve energy efficiency with their existing products are all great openers.
Put together focused and interesting events to bring existing or potential customers into showroom facilities. Update product displays to make them more exciting and fun, and incorporate energy-efficiency options. Now's the time to think outside of the box.
John Soumbasakis, AVAD: From a sales standpoint, they have to leverage the customer relationships they have created over the years.
[Retailers should] market new technologies such as Blu-ray or content servers as door openers to existing customers. Sell audio along with video as it not only increases the overall sales but adds significant margin and contributes to a positive customer experience. Maximize the sale to every customer by top-down selling and accessorizing every sale. Pay very close attention to cash flow, inventory levels and staffing.
These are the metrics that will make or break their financial well being.
Bill Stewart, Petra: The first step is they need to drive foot traffic into their store — marketing is important. Once they get them in the store, adding accessories to every sale is key. Accessories drive profits.
Retailers who let an LCD TV customer walk out without the cables, mount, screen cleaner and power protection are missing out on a huge opportunity.
It is also important for retailers to diversify their offerings, and the best way for them to do that without major investment risk is to use a distributor like us. Aside from all of the benefits and features we offer, such as same-day shipping, free freight programs and no minimum-order requirements, it is important to partner with a distributor who makes doing business easy.
Fred Towns, New Age: The key to success is having the right product at the right time. It's critical that retailers plan ahead and keep their inventory fresh at all times with an expanded assortment. New Age takes a tremendous burden off of the retailers by offering a consultative selling approach to guide them into the most profitable product mix. New Age has broadened its support team to include product management and business development professionals to keep a keen eye on the businesses that benefit both the vendor partners and customers. Also, having mastered a highly efficient supply chain and traffic model allows retailers to receive shipments daily, weekly or monthly as needed.