Wal-Mart

Managing More Than the Project
November 1, 2007

We often think of project management as the back end of a custom installation. We think it’s the technical intricacies of installing, connecting and programming the system.
I think the project begins with the first encounter a prospect makes with us and that, hopefully, it never ends. After all, if the sales staff doesn’t do a great job, there won’t be a project to manage. And if no one follows up with the client, there won’t be additional sales and referrals.
It’s not surprising that mass merchandise chains have climbed on the consumer electronics bandwagon. After all, their customers want

Managing More Than the Project
November 1, 2007

We often think of project management as the back end of a custom installation. We think it’s the technical intricacies of installing, connecting and programming the system. I think the project begins with the first encounter a prospect makes with us and that, hopefully, it never ends. After all, if the sales staff doesn’t do a great job, there won’t be a project to manage. And if no one follows up with the client, there won’t be additional sales and referrals. It’s not surprising that mass merchandise chains have climbed on the consumer electronics bandwagon. After all, their customers want

Hard Times at Retail, Good News for You
April 1, 2007

March wasn’t the best of months for Circuit City and Tweeter. But it was a pretty good month for you, beyond the fact that you might have some decent talent looking for work in your market these days. Circuit City laid off 3,400 associates and took an enormous PR hit in the process. My local newspaper’s web site awkwardly ran a Circuit City banner ad at the top of its home page while, just below, its editors were inviting terminated employees to share their horror stories. A number of newspaper and TV station web sites posted stories with the headline, “Circuit City Fires Employees

Wal-Mart to Carry HD Radio Receiver; Major Ad Campaign on the Way
March 5, 2007

In a move that could send awareness of HD Radio skyrocketing, Wal-Mart said it has rolled out JVC’s sub-$190 HD-W10 Mobile HD Radio Receivers in 1,989 of its stores across 85 markets. While this announcement involving a car audio system does not have a direct impact on most custom installers and integrators, it will be backed by a “major advertising campaign” that could well boost consumer recognition of HD Radio to the point where those businesses can sell and integrate more high-end components that support the technology. The HD Digital Radio Alliance, a joint initiative of broadcasters, touted the move as a breakthrough for the free

A Custom Retailer’s Double Life as a Manufacturer
January 1, 2007

The saying goes that if you look at the shoes on the feet of a cobbler’s family, you’ll usually find holes in the soles. And while maxims become maxims because they are so often true, Snap AV, a company that can vouch for its products’ quality because it actually uses what it makes and sells, is the classic exception to the rule. The Charlotte, N.C.-based company is a subsidiary of Wirepath Home Systems, which also owns the two-store chain Zobo.tv, a retailer of turnkey custom home theater systems. It is the brainchild of President Jay Faison, a former 26-store Blockbuster Video franchisee-turned-custom installer

DisplaySearch’s Paul Gagnon and John F. Jacobs
January 1, 2007

Everyone knows that prices—and, more relevantly, margins—for flat panels went circling down the toilet in 2006, but what was the damage specifically? CR got two studied views from the research experts at DisplaySearch, part of the NPD Group. John F. Jacobs, director, notebook PC market research, keeps a close eye on the manufacturing of flat panels; he gives us the “supply side” view of the flat panel equation. Paul Gagnon, director of North America TV market research, keeps tabs on retail and reseller pricing trends; he summarizes the trends you experienced facing consumers last year. Let’s review just what happened in 2006. Where were

Middle or Mediocre?
January 1, 2007

In the world of electronics retailing, being in the middle is being mediocre to many consumers. The prevailing, reassuring view for years has been that of the consumer market as a pyramid, with fewer buyers and dealers at the top and more of each at the bottom. In my long-held view, however, the market is becoming hourglass-shaped, with the middle getting sucked out. At the bottom, Best Buy and Circuit City, each generating tens of billions of dollars in sales, dominate the consumer electronics business. At the top, higher-end retailers with less than 10 storefronts are doing quite well. In the middle, however, are retailers like

The Value Defenders!
December 1, 2006

Some custom retailers dismiss the Black Friday shoppers who snapped up the $478 32-inch, 1080i LCD HDTVs at Home Depot or the $988 42-inch plasmas at Wal-Mart as “not my customers.” Yet many are concerned about, if not directly rattled by, the new retail competition and the ridiculously low flat-panel prices that set the tone for the 2006 holiday selling season. The fourth quarter of 2006 hammered home a new reality for the custom retailer. For those working the middle ground between high-end custom integration and A/V retail, it’s going to be a wild, challenging ride—one that may require more C-tailers to shift further

Crunch the Numbers, Expand Your Business
December 1, 2006

Last month, I discussed the idea of market size and evaluating the concept of MCE (Marketing Circle Elasticity)—whether you can expand the size of your market. This month, I’ll use these ideas in looking at your consumer market and how it impacts your business. What is happening in the market? Where is the growth potential? If you’re planning to grow, where will that growth come from? Is the high-end customer buying more expensive products? Or are a larger number of customers buying lower-priced video displays? Is your growth going to be obtained by getting more market share, expanding the size of your market, or both? Is

Pacific Media: HDTV Holiday Volume to Soar, But Revenues Flat
November 20, 2006

HDTV market research firm Pacific Media Associates predicts what a lot of C-business already expect: HDTVs will fly off the shelves like hotcakes this holiday season, but margin-hungry dealers won’t have much more profit to show for it. Pacific estimates that more than 3.2 million flat-panel HDTVs will be sold to U.S consumers in the fourth quarter, more than double the units sold in the fourth quarter of 2005. It expects mass retailers like Wal-Mart and Target to offer market-rocking limited quantity offers this Friday, with many additional significant price cuts to last through year’s end. “The manufacturers and retailers have apparently chosen to