Guest Column: Speak Out: Reinvent the Implementation
When you speak with a specialized retailer or a custom house with a show room, they all complain that the foot traffic is limited. When you speak with consumers, they all complain they are confused by the technologies. They do not know if they are being sold down the river. They cannot compare products—all in all a very uncomfortable situation.
One solution might be to rent the showroom to the consumer. Create a program, which gives the consumer the showroom with an audio/video consultant for a fixed amount per hour and let him go to town deciding what he wants. When consumers are approached by a salesperson, they are either "just looking" or they feel stupid.
They might feel they will be taken advantage of or they are wasting the salesperson's time.
If they bought the time, they can ask the sales consultant to hook up different amplification, different loudspeakers, etc. If they pay for it, they get credit for the entire amount, if they buy the system from the retailer.
They can bring in their own music like in the past, their own DVD material to get a feel for the home theater. This would satisfy the retailer and he would get paid for the time in the showroom. We are all trying to get paid for the time invested, and it would free up the customer, as this is his time; he bought it. He would also be more inclined to buy the system from the retailer as he already has skin in the game. All of a sudden, the Internet solution from a website seems more distant.
This truly would set up the showroom to be custom, creating the customer's system, taking the time to learn about the customer and his/her desires, lifestyle and habits. If you want to be in custom, be in custom. Don't try and be a price-matching outlet. That will kill you.