The Mobile Electronics Specialists of America buying/marketing group, MESA, which represents a quarter of a billion dollars in car audio buying power and 231 storefronts, said it will ‘not support in any way’ the new Amazon plan to offer car stereo installation through a network of installing specialists.
MESA’s board of directors said it believes Amazon’s program would aid transshipping and further Amazon’s use of unauthorized dealers to sell products.
A MESA statement said, “This is certainly detrimental to retailers, manufacturer’s consumers, and the industry as a whole in both the short and long term.”
The group’s executive director Ryan Gunter said, “Professional installation is one of our members’ greatest assets; and removing product sales from the transaction would drive business away from our stores, not to them.”
The announcement that Amazon will offer to its customers the option to install car audio at local retailers, created a firestorm reaction among car stereo specialists. (See comments below story here).
We polled some leading retailers and suppliers on theirs views on the Amazon program.
Car Toys, based in Seattle, with 50 stores said it had “no comment” at this time.
The Al & Ed’s chain in Southern CA, is evaluating Amazon’s plan (see later in this story)
JVC Mobile’s Ron Trout said “The devil is in the details.” He said a program that drives traffic to retailers may be good for the industry as floor traffic is a key industry problem. But he is concerned that the program would legitimize unauthorized retailers. “That’s my beef with Amazon; they won’t help police their Marketplace.” JVC Mobile has not sold to Amazon since it implemented a “Marketplace” for third-party sellers.
The MESA buying group is concerned that retailers would be left holding the bag on faulty product sold on Amazon that is brought to the brick and mortar shop for installation.
“Consumers would expect the local authorized dealer to warranty any defective merchandise; resulting in consumer outrage directed at the local dealer instead of… – Amazon,” said Gunter.
John Haynes of Al & Ed’s said the first reaction of a retailer is to assume working with the online giant only strengthens Amazon, a competitor, who has taken sales from specialists. But he said, “Once you work through the emotional response, one realizes that this might be a great opportunity. One of the things all store front retailers need is more customer visits, and if Amazon helps direct install labor to a store, it’s certainly better than leaving it up to the purchaser and hoping for the best.”
Under the program, the installer would set his own fee and then pay Amazon 20 percent of the job.
Mitch Schaffer, an award winning car audio specialist said he is vehemently against the program. He cited some of the reasons noted by MESA. Setting prices on online would also be a problem for specialists, he said, because they often need to see the customer’s car to quote an accurate price. “When a price is quoted on Amazon and the client arrives only to find out that they need an extra widget that costs $50-100, we, as local retailers are going to look bad…. ”
He also voiced skepticism that Amazon would ultimately drive customers to brick and mortar retailers rather than trying to recapture them and retain them for itself.
Schaffer added, “And while this may be a bit of sour grapes, Amazon and their marketplace need installers for this program to succeed. Why would we want to provide a service that supports and props up our competition? ”
Source: MESA and CEoutlook