Some dealers say they will stick with the new car audio brands they’ve tried out over the past few months, after looking to new suppliers because their go-to lines were back ordered.
Some have found that the new products work better than they expected, or offer advantages in price.
In fact, the recent 12 volt product shortages have created a large unplanned experiment for retailers on the performance of second tier brands. Desperate for product as tier 1 suppliers ran out due to unexpected demand, dealers placed tier 2 and 3 brands on the shelves. According to our informal poll on the Mobile Electronics Syndicate recently, many dealers were pleasantly surprised by their new brand’s performance.
Perzan Auto Radio, PA typically sells JVC, Kenwood and Alpine decks. Due to back orders, it took on Boss Audio. Owner Erik Waserstein said, “We ordered some Boss Elite product (BV800ACP and BV900ACP) since they were in stock. The product turned out to impress. It has a responsive capacitive touch screen, concise user interface and seems to please clients. [It] also carries a three-year warranty. It also has a stronger pre-amp output than some of its competitors. MAP protected as well. Some of our back orders have filled and we have plenty of stock in our mainstream lines at this point, but we may be able to carve out a spot for the Boss Elite product and present it to the value conscious consumer…”
He and others note that due to the shortages, consumers are less brand conscious and are focusing instead on features such as CarPlay or Android Auto.
“We are also noticing a trend where consumers don’t really care about the brand as they are just going for smartphone connectivity anyway. I think there is a real shift taking place in the head unit marketplace,” Waserstein added.
Both Columbus Car Audio, OH and Soundcrafters, FL bought in Sony and will stick with it. “They’ve been courting us for a year,” said Columbus Car Audio Owner Todd Hays. “Way back in the Mobile ES days, we had a great relationship. We were trying to figure out what we were going to do. We couldn’t seem to get anything in head units and there weren’t clear answers on when they’d show up. It was just a matter of something to offer our customers and they had product. We brought it in and its been quite successful and the margins are great.”
Absolute Electronix, MD took on SounDigital amplifiers and will stay with the line, said Owner Ata Ehdaivand. “It’s a competitively priced micro amplifier that can compete with amplifiers of ‘normal size.’” He added, “I just don’t see this thing [sales surge] slowing down. We had a little lull and I thought it’s over and then yesterday we built up two weeks of appointments in an hour and a half between 4:30 and 6.”
Joshua Collins of Puns Customs, MI said, “I picked up Massive Audio because they were in stock and it has sold well and other than a certain model of amp, I have had ZERO returns. I will continue with their line. ”
3-store chain Mobile Music, WA brought in Nakamichi due to the shortage and is likely to stick with it, said Owner Shawn Gunnels.
Other retailer responses included the following:
“We had (still having) shortages in our main amp / woofer lines. Brought in some ARC and Triton. So far they’re looking pretty good. Also less Internet price erosion . So we’re likely to keep them. Also talking with Audio Frog and looking at their line also.”
“We picked up Kicker and Aunex. So far they’ve fit well and filled in where others couldn’t.”
As a couple of dealers mentioned Triton, a new line from the distributor group, Elite Distributor Alliance, we asked Executive Director Jim Warren if the pandemic has helped Triton sales.
He said while the line is “in its infancy,” the launch, “certainly been timely.” He continued, “With each production run we’re typically going two to three times the previous run. Triton Audio is already up to over forty different models and dealer re-orders have been significant.”
Some dealers have used the product shortages as a means of getting rid of old inventory. Sound of Tri-State’s Mehdi Narimanian said the chain was able to switch SKUs and work with its current vendors to keep product on the shelves. He added, “Plus, old and discontinued models that were just collecting dust in our warehouse, finally got some attention and we now have a very clean warehouse!”