Car Toys May Help 12V Stores Enter Wireless

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Car Toys

50-store chain Car Toys, based in Seattle, is in talks with some car audio retailers about helping them enter the smartphone retail market by setting them up with a packaged assortment of top smartphones and a portable hotspot.

Car Toys would act as a “master agent” that would sell to retailers or “sub agents,” providing about 5 or 6 phones and rate plans, most likely working with a single wireless carrier.  Dealers would activate the service plans via computer.   Car Toys might also provide a full kiosk merchandising unit for the wireless devices.  Retailers, on their own, could add smartphone accessories such as phone cases and adapters, which can be a profit booster.

“We have talked with some other car stereo stores about them being able to offer cellphones and cellphone rate plans…and there has been some pretty good interest,” said Car Toys Senior VP Merchandising Jim Warren, who noted the venture is still in the “exploratory” phase.

“If you look back to when a lot of car stereo stores got started, a lot of 12 volt retailers were in cellular at the beginning,” he added. In the 80’s dealers would install a 3-watt transmitter in the trunk and then a handset in the console of the car.  The phones at the time required a permanent installation and the carriers looked to car stereo shops, with install bays, to do the installation work.  That ended once handsets become truly portable and pocket-sized.

“Now it’s coming back with the need to get wireless technology back in the car.  It’s making sense for [dealers] who were out of it to look for ways to get back into it,” Warren said.

As  more radios work with apps from phones, a new radio customer might also want to update his phone.

And as more car radios come with WiFi, he might want to buy a hot spot to complete the WiFi connection.

Car Toys, of course, not only sells car audio, but is a leading smartphone and wireless service reseller for Verizon Wireless, AT&T, T-Mobile and Boost Mobile.   It has also provided wireless kiosks in the past for select mass merchants, according to industry members.

Phones available in the car audio package would include top sellers such as the Samsung Galaxy S3 and S4, the iPhone and HTC One, said Warren.

Source: CEoutlook




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1 Comment

  1. Our 12-volt specialty shop won’t get involved with cell phones again! Back in 2000 we were debating with our business advisor about getting out of the cellular business. He said “but you made $18,000.00 in cell phone commissions last year!”. I said “Yes, but look at our Cost of Goods Sold for cellular” (it was $18,000.00!). It takes too much time to sell a phone & if the customer defaults on their contract the cellular provider takes back the commission they paid which was used to pay for the customer’s “free” phone (we never had a deadbeat customer return the phone!). Not to mention how fast cell phone technology & equipment changes – anybody want to buy a nice leather case for a Nokia 918 or a car cell phone antenna & a StarTac adapter?

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