Buying Groups: Group Dynamics 2011

CustomRetailer canvassed buying group leaders
 who cater to the specialty retail/custom community to gauge market trends, member needs and future-of-the-
industry projections. Here’s what they had to say.

Regarding smart-grid appliances, it’s an early technology; we’ll see a little bit of in the fourth quarter of this year but I think the real push will come in 2012 and 2013. We’re seeing the transition now with smart meters. Here in Southern California, I’ve been notified by my electric company that I’m getting a smart meter. The demand for smart appliances and technologies will increase as people start seeing that fluctuation in their electric bill. Once that meter goes onto the side of the house, you’ll see the electric bill go up.

Aging-in-place technology-based products start with very basic personal emergency response systems, and that also allows for some recurring revenue opportunities. But companies like Grand Care Systems offer pretty sophisticated systems—software platforms that let a loved one keep track of elderly family members and keep them out of a nursing home. I do see it as an opportunity for dealers who want to find other models to keep themselves in business.

On surveillance, we will be announcing some solutions at our next Primetime event in late August.

The thing I always say about this channel is that you have to be chameleons. The climate out there is always changing. It was retail, it moved into project management and custom installation and the next iteration is certainly integration.

Jim Ristow, Executive Vice President, HES (Home Entertainment Source): When control and automation become more mainstream, that will probably be the largest influence. There are over 200 million smartphones that will be in the marketplace by the end of 2011 and over 35 million tablets, and less than two percent are currently being used for control or automation. Each is a potential client for our group. That’s also something that’s very difficult for the box stores to scale because product can be commoditized but solutions are much more difficult. Our group continues to do upscale, but the market will get much broader.

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