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Specialty Retailer "Clips"

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Last issue we discussed the definition of a specialty retailer. In a continuation of the discussion I feel it is important to identify how a specialty retailer can differentiate from the competition. As it happens I ran into just such an opportunity about two years ago. You’ll need to follow this one…  BUT it is very well worth the read. BETTER; every reader should consider a similar kind of practice. Most consumers are price conscious and according to Eddy K, “all else being equal consumers will buy at the lowest price”. Therefore the specialty retailer’s corollary as it relates to his consumers is to “create an UN-equal tilt in their own favor”. Sounds easy but how? In olden times just opening the door for business was enough to draw paying consumers.  There was a lot more demand than supply back then. As supply began its charge to equalize with demand, retailers had to become a little more creative. Build and sell, custom subwoofer enclosures, keyless entry systems, window tinting, custom dashboards, etc… The goal was to provide the consumer with an experience simply not available at the competition. Now as supply has begun to catch up to demand and according…
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Editorial Correction

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Editorial Correction: On page 34 of the September 2014 issue of Mobile Electronics, one of our writers wrote a comment about Compustar’s lack of contact availability to its customers. Compustar has responded by explaining that direct lines are not available on the website to better help them focus on their vendors and to supply the highest level of customer service. We apologize for the error and will do our best to avoid such wording in future issues. In response, the company submitted a statement regarding its support for vendors: “Compustar has launched an easy-to-use support terminal at support.compustar.com that gears towards answering the most basic and most advanced questions regarding our products. The support terminal also features a ticketing system that allows us to receive customer inquiries, even outside of office hours.  Our toll-free number is (888) 820-3690 and is primarily reserved to supporting our retail and distribution partners. We pride ourselves on providing excellent installer support, and are more than willing to walk our installers through even the most complicated install jobs.  Dealers who are interested in learning more about Compustar can call us at our Toll-Free number or e-mail us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to learn more about joining our…
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During a recent gathering of some industry types, which I felt lucky to attend, someone brought up the idea of specialty retailers.  The context was, what specialty retailers and suppliers expect from each other.  I thought it might be informative to learn how some of these folks defined “specialty retail”.  The answers were what one might expect…  Independently owned.  Brick & mortar.  Smaller shops.  Know products and services well.  More personal relationship with consumer.  Etc…  Someone even took offense at the question suggesting it was disingenuous because “we all generally know what a specialty retailer is”. Yeah well…  I don’t think any of the responses to the question were incorrect.  Indeed many specialty retailers exhibit many of the “definition points” identified by the members of this group.  That said I feel it might be useful for suppliers and retailers who seek to engage in business with each other to have a clear and predictable set of expectations about what a specialty retailer is.  This is especially true when these two parties are building business plans that include each other’s products and services. Just for fun; Wall Street considers Best Buy, Big 5 Sporting Goods and Fry’s Electronics to be specialty…
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Mobile electronics manufacturers succeed or fail based upon their understanding of the market as well as the quality of their retailer relationships, and here is where all manufacturers can improve their game. Just when you think you have a handle on what it takes to succeed, a more careful examination proves that you have much to learn.  I gained a lot of insight after reviewing and judging the Top 12 retailers in this year’s Retailer of the Year (ROTY) Award. In no particular order, I will share with you five lessons that every manufacturer should learn and understand from the Top 12: 1. The best retailers don’t rely on gimmicks to grow their business The Top 12 retailers all had very straightforward approaches to earning the business of their customers, starting with an honest assessment of what products and services are offered and how each retailer possesses true differentiation from other retailers.  No “fake deals,” and few, if any, giveaways.  Manufacturers need to collaborate better with their best dealers and understand that broad-based, one-size-fits-all promotions will not necessarily work with specialist retailers.  Having a flexible, customized approach will earn more of the specialists’ business.  2. The best retailers have commanded…
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Internet and Surprise

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As is my custom, I was reading an article the other day in TWICE; “The Internet Is Your Friend, Not Your Enemy.” The article was written by a well-respected CEO, ‘industry veteran” type who is quite capable. I perceive the goal of the article was to help brick & mortar retailers who constantly lament that the Internet is a significant cause of their business troubles. The article discussed the showrooming concept and how to make that work for the brick & mortar retailer. It talked about the need for a brand to have a significant Internet presence. It even discussed why it is OK for the brand to sell directly to the consumer and to brick & mortar retailers at the same time. I agreed with everything in the article. I was however disappointed by what was left undiscussed in the article. I find this failure to identify the real issue and discuss it in frank terms most distressing and a little bit irresponsible. Kinda like pointing out that “the emperor has no clothes.” All his servants are afraid to say so for fear of reprisal, so they let him run around naked. It also reminds me of a man…
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As I began researching my topic for this month’s blog, I looked to the past for inspiration. The day I started my research happened to be May 29th, the same day that Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay of Nepal became the first explorers to reach the summit of Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth. This is significant for several reasons. Not only does Everest sit at around the same altitude as most jet airliners (27,900 feet), but due to low oxygen levels, freezing temperatures and unpredictable weather changes, climbing this mountain is considered more than just dangerous – it’s insane. Risks are inherent in reaching the top of any mountain, but like climbing Everest, a new business startup can be an original idea that others deem to be insane. To be a small business owner you have to be a little “crazy,” as some might say. But I call it something else: Passionate. Without passion, there is no innovation. Without innovation, there is no glory. Granted, glory isn’t why a passionate person opens their business, but personal achievement and self-belief are. No matter the position you find yourself in, whether it be new installer, solo retailer,…
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