After a summer of scrounging for audio product because of a run on car audio goods, retailers are wondering if remote starters will also end up in short supply.
Many retailers are placing their orders for the season a month or two earlier than in past years, although there are mixed reports on the weather expected this winter.
“Inventory is the number one priority for all our retail partners. We have been delivering early and creating early buy-in programs to make sure they are stocked. Dealers who usually wait until October are buying in August and September,” said Compustar’s Justin Lee.
VOXX and Fortin said they are spotting the same trend.
“Dealers seem to be buying early by about 30 days and ordering a little bit heavier,” said VOXX’s Aron Demers, adding, “I think they are concerned about inventory levels based upon what they are experiencing with car audio this summer.”
Directed has been short on inventory in spot products including the DS4 system and some Avital products, report dealers. Demers said, “On the Omega side and VOXX side with Code Alarm Prestige, Pursuit, etc, we’re in a good inventory position right now going into the season. With Directed, we’re playing catch up and we should be all caught up by the middle or end of October on all open orders. Yes, there will be more inventory; we did buy more than Directed did in the second half of last year.”
Jean-Paul Raymond of Fortin said the number of tech support calls is much higher this year. “This is telling me that installs are happening throughout North America. It’s good seeing that people are installing early,” he said.
Another trend which may bode well for remote start this year is a sudden surge in used car purchases, as fewer people want to take public transportation in light of COVID-19. “Used cars typically don’t come with remote start so that should be good for the industry as a whole this year,” said Raymond.
GoFast Solutions, a distributor out of CT said, “We are seeing dealers buying remote start early but in audio, we’re not seeing much of a decline,” in the words of Director of Merchandising Sanjay Sharma. He expects audio inventory levels to catch up around October or November.
Mark D’Elia of SoundFX, RI, a member of the MESA buying group, suggests to other retailers, “Get your orders in early and just forecast as best as you can… if you think you are going to order as you go, that’s a mistake. ..I have a feeling come December and January, I’m going to see a million emails from other dealers looking for remote start. I have a feeling it’s not going to be a pretty year [in terms of available inventory].”
Other dealers presented a mix of strategies. Ovation Car Toys, IN is still waiting until this month to order and is buying at the same levels as last year.
Car Fi, MO is buying earlier but at the same levels.
ABC Automotive IL, is ordering on levels similar to last year. Car Tunes, MI already bought in, just as it does every year, but in a bit heavier quantity. The 2-store retailer, which sells about 4,500 remote starters a year, is expecting a robust season, “probably a continuation of this wild audio season,” said Nate Kubicz.