The only way to keep from stagnating or being passed over in favour of some crappy $30.00 website, is for you to realize what you can offer to those customers... what they CAN’T get on-line.

Is Old-School Retail Shedding It’s Skin?

Dave Long | Evolution Audio Video Inc.

Is Old-School Retail Shedding It’s Skin?

Author: Dave Long, Evolution Audio

Many retailers are experiencing walk-in traffic that does nothing more than waste an hour or two of the salesman’s time, gathering information, facts and opinions just so they can rush home and order off the ‘net or even from their family contact who happens to work in a related field. When it comes right down to it, this is really nothing new. There have always been customers referred to as ‘tire-kickers’ or ‘time wasters’ but internet or not, you always have to do the competition one better.

The only way to keep from stagnating or being passed over in favour of some crappy $30.00 website, is for you to realize what you can offer to those customers... what they CAN’T get on-line and what can’t they get from their laptops that they can get from you?

The Internet has been an incredible tool. Access anywhere in the world for any reason on any subject with lightning speed. 20 minutes of reading can make you a pro’ on practically any subject because there’s never been a medium like it but that and word of mouth has all but murdered the art of the demo for many retailers. Why is that?

I used to do about 8 to 10 demos a day. Speakers, receivers, Loewe televisions, mini systems… I kept over 150 CD’s and 120 DVD’s on hand from every genre of music as well as film including black & white so I could grab a great cut, tailor made for a customer’s taste. I had the art of the demo wired tight like a drum but so many retailers are now saying they haven’t done a demo in ages because people don’t need it. Customers don’t have the time and it’s all come down to how cheap you’re willing to sell the item. No one seems to care about how committed you are to the brand or the product or your business. All that matters is that you’re six dollars less than the internet site that customer was on just an hour ago… if you are.

Is this true? Is having a showroom with a line of comparable speakers a waste of space? Has the ability to switch out speaker wire brands at a moments notice, become lost on customers who just want the cheap stuff they heard and saw at their brother-in-law’s the weekend before? Is retail then, a medium better left to the big chain box movers who cannot seem to supply the correct information on a given product or market swing? Does the average guy walking down the street care who you are or how long you’ve been running a solid business?

Many retailers are experiencing walk-in traffic that does nothing more than waste an hour or two of the salesman’s time, gathering information, facts and opinions just so they can rush home and order off the ‘net or even from their family contact who happens to work in a related field. When it comes right down to it, this is really nothing new. There have always been customers referred to as ‘tire-kickers’ or ‘time wasters’ but internet or not, you always have to do the competition one better.

The only way to keep from stagnating or being passed over in favour of some crappy $30.00 website, is for you to realize what you can offer to those customers... what they CAN’T get on-line and what can’t they get from their laptops that they can get from you?

 

Service: Your expertise and speed in being able to handle customers issues, questions & problems is worth it’s weight in Gold. When a customer has a projector go down at 10pm, if they can reach you or myself at Evolution, having that ability however scarcely it may be used, is like a warm blanket and something the clown on the internet cannot provide. In fact, most sites won’t even respond to an e-mail for days if not, weeks and more often than not, when they do, it’s not good. Make the point that cross-border shopping gives customers virtually no warranty whatsoever here… and these days, you need it.

 

Advice: You know what fits the customer’s budget and situation. If you honestly talk one on one with a buyer and even back down from a big up-sell, you do what the customer doesn’t expect… level with him. Up-selling is useless to you in the long run if you sell the guy something he doesn’t need or want. Sooner or later he realizes it and won’t go back to you even if he was paid. Up-sell if it makes sense. Show the options for the budget and show what they could do for a bit more cash and let the customers sell themselves. High pressure sales don’t work any better in electronics than they do on a used car lot.

 

 

Demos: Many customers don’t really know what they want despite thinking they do. They get swayed easily on-line but it’s usually the wrong way. You need to show them WHY it’s the wrong way. When Larry Darnell esq., sees a review on the net for a product, he’ll figure it’s gotta be good enough for him because after all, over 6 people liked it and it’s within his budget. It’s your job to get him off the phone for pricing and into your showroom. You’re in sales. Don’t get lazy and get ready to lie down and die because of eBay. Make your demos to the point. Informative, fast and open. You’re in control of your presentation, whether 60 min’ seminar or 30 second run-by. It’s your way of pointing out plusses and minuses, things to see and listen for. Sharpen your demo. Practice it, spend time to hone it and use even short ones just to show a guy buying a power bar, what’s new in your store. Don’t daisy-chain LCD’s, keep your software up to date— don’t use copies.

 

Personality: You have one. Use it. If yours sucks… let someone else use theirs. The art of sales is not to sell a freezer to an Eskimo… it’s knowing how to fit product to the right people. Some don’t deal well with complicated equipment. Don’t force them to. Your honesty and integrity will keep you in business, so you don’t need to undercut everyone else in town. Realize your self-worth and stand tall. Keep your pricing firmly in line, gain trust and those only interested in pricing on the internet can stay there. Those seeking more than just price need you and what you have to offer can’t be bought on Craigslist. Retail hasn’t changed really. The attention has been shifted from brick & mortar to high speed but that wall of speakers or LCD’s is still needed.


Dave Long

Dealer & Customer Support Mgr., Shipper, Receiver, Back-up order entry, Newsletter & Quickie Author & Designer, Product Specialist, Door mat arranger, Guy who has to go to Biz Depot periodically, Service Co-ordinator, Ad put-together-guy, Sales Arm-twister, Coffee buyer, Bomb Disarming dude,  Envelope licker, Visa/MC charge guy, Bulletin Board Chimp, Inventory Gumby, Extremely homely back-up phone picker-upper, Fancy label designer, Troubleshooter, Back-up nvoicing lackey, Mail machine mook, RMA distributor, Marketing ideas guy, Thermostat Overlord, Projector tweaker, Server re-booter/back-up tape changer, Mediocre "Mahatma" spiritual advisor, Muffin & Bagel Fairy, Antique 3/4" video editor, Parts Finder Monkey, Applications Guru, God of Loewe, Equipment tester, Gatherer of useless facts, Office radio station selector, Product manual study-guy, 24/7 reachable dude, potential scapegoat for crap that goes wrong, linear thinking comedy relief, Analog file lover and Garbage removal technician. That enough for ya?

Evolution Audio Video Inc.,

416-603-9090


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