The pitch at retail could make you cry these days. A trip to buy some home theater components left industry veteran, Ray Windsor, president of German Maestro in tears. He asks for some help. Somebody should read his tale of woe below and give him a call.
OPEN LETTER TO SPECIALTY RETAILERS
After an experience visiting a home theater specialty retailer near my office, with the goal of gathering an education and making a purchase, 7.1 receiver, DVD player, cables, etc… I am not sure if I came away with an epiphany or an intense case of fear, nervousness and frustration.
This specialty retailer is in a location that you cannot get to from here. It was mid day Saturday. All of the TVs were on. I asked the clerk (read “clerk” with disdain) about the difference between 5.1 and 7.1 system configuration. The difference was explained to me. He made an attempt to demonstrate the 7.1 sound in their high-end room. After about 10 uncomfortable minutes he was unable to coax any sound from the elaborate set up. My enquiry about Blu-Ray DVD was met with similar results. Forget the speaker demo. Its OK (sort of). I understand how folks might “rob” the demo room in a product availability emergency. Maybe a cable was missing…?
My real fears result from the clerk’s absolute lack of interest in learning about where I was in the education – buying process. He allowed me to direct the entire affair. My questions were answered for sure, BUT THAT’S ALL. Forget about; “How long have you been thinking about this?… Where have you been looking?… Do you have a big TV, theater system, audio system at home now?… Are you going to do the installation or have it done?… Is this a project you are in the beginning of or just finishing?… Etc… Etc…” Who let this guy on the floor? Management?
No attempt to understand the state of the consumer was made. No attempt to make a sale. No attempt to add knowledge other than answer the questions. No difference from the big red COKE machine in front of the body shop next door. A complete waste of time for me as a consumer. Another nervous point on the education graph, extending a disturbing trend line for me as a manufacturer committed to championing the value of the brick & mortar specialty retailer.
Half an hour later on the Internet I learned that I should have a DVD player with Internet connection, built in wi-fi, and at least HDMI version 1.4. I learned about 7.1 receiver power, inputs, outputs, digital, analog, tuning and a myriad of other important features. I did not possess enough knowledge to ask these questions of the clerk when I entered or left the brick & mortar store. Of course I learned price variances. (Kudos to Yamaha, Denon and Audioquest)
Is this the common experience of the consumer who seeks out a brick & mortar specialty retailer with the intention of making an immediate purchase OR is this just an anomaly? Retailer had a bad day… Unfortunately I have this kind of experience more often than the brick & mortar specialty retailer or manufacturer community should feel comfortable with.
Do manufacturers really need brick & mortar (value add) retailers if this is the kind of value added? The Internet (COKE machine) pages offered up more information and… every page tried to close the sale with a “BUY NOW” button. I note that several of the brands mentioned above performed admirably in their endeavor to manage pricing on the Internet. It can be done.
If a brick & mortar specialty retailer won’t even try to create a sale to a flesh & blood consumer standing on the floor in front of him, what respect (forget loyalty) should he expect, does he deserve, from the manufacturers under his roof who did not receive even a poor shot at the deal?
With tears wetting my keyboard, pain in my heart and great concern between my ears for the future of brick & mortar specialty retail, I will make my purchases at FULL RETAIL on the Internet.
Somebody help. Convince me I am wrong… 877-689-7833 or mobile 949-228-2153
Very Sadly Yours,