On Starpower’s Success

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The following is a response to “Have You Heard The News?” a recent letter by TWICE VP/publisher Ed Hecht.

The real question that has haunted many retailers: Is retail dead? The answer is clearly “no,” but that doesn’t really address the fact that many retailers are getting “killed.” Retailers stuck in 2008 are no longer relevant. Those that haven’t changed or don’t know what to do are certainly headed for extinction.

Take a look at RadioShack (or any consumer electronics retailer that has closed its doors in the last few years). Despite having an incredible brand, built over decades with millions of loyal customers, they ultimately fell. This is in spite of a most competent new management team led by Joe Magnacca. But this was too little, too late.

Some will say they relied too heavy on cellphones; others may point to a weak e-commerce platform — all of which may be true. However, I believe the real reason is that RadioShack fell was a failure to look at its customers and relying too heavily on the products themselves.

I don’t allege that that the failed retailers didn’t study their customer base or even understand their customers’ wants and needs. I am sure they did. In fact, the last couple of years at RadioShack there were massive changes in merchandising. However, the failure by RadioShack (and many other retailers) was a failure to redefine their business by their customers’ lifestyle, thus abandoning the people that loved the brand the most.

The concept of defining a business by customer lifestyle is a hard concept for those of us that were brought up in retail. I grew up in a family furniture business and watched how customers flocked to retail stores based on “loss leaders” or recognized products sold at “value” pricing. The formula was fairly simple. Take products that customers will recognize, mark it cheap, advertise like crazy, line customers up at the doors, let salespeople find the right product for their customer and offer great service after the sale. Consumer electronics retailers had the additional advantage of selling the latest “must-have” electronics, adding to the frenzy. This worked for decades as consumers sought out retailers to guide them and become the primary source of information necessary to make a purchase.

But the economic crash compounded with the Internet, millennials, home building and anything else you want to throw into the mix changed everything. Today, many “utility” brands took over and soaked up precious shoppers seeking out a traditional retail purchase. Think Walmart, Amazon, Home Depot or Costco. These companies have become very successful and very strong. The consumer knows the strength and appreciates the value derived from doing business with these companies. However, they only do business with these retailers because of the utility — no real connection to one’s lifestyle. It is likely that these companies will continue to shift to a multichannel strategy where web presence and store fulfillment will become even more important. I am pretty sure that these brands will successfully navigate the challenges at retail and continue to eat away at businesses trying to compete for a traditional retail product sale.

The world’s most remarkable retailer, Apple, is massive but not a utility by connecting with a lifestyle first. It is cool to be an Apple customer and that not only enhances the brand, but brings people that want to identify with the brand. But it is not only Apple. Premium upscale brands such as Sub Zero/Wolf appliances, Rolex, Victoria’s Secret and even automaker Tesla have performed remarkably well in recent years because they appeal to the “lifestyle” of their target. While these brands benefit from the economic success of the wealthy, it is important to note that their growth has been much stronger than their competitors selling in the same category.

Retailers such as Restoration Hardware proved the importance of connecting by lifestyle when they revamped their merchandising from hardware and knobs into home furnishings. Williams-Sonoma opened to sell French cookware and created a cult following based on a lifestyle. Victoria’s Secret, well, let’s just say they aren’t selling undergarments. These companies and many others thriving right now are doing many things right. But the most important thing these retailers do is define their business by their customer, not their products. They are bucking the trend.

There is a lesson Starpower learned from all of this, including some tough conclusions. First, Starpower is not and will never be a utility. Second, we must recognize consumers looking for consumer electronics don’t love the traditional retail experience. Third, the shopping patterns for consumers have shifted (at least partially) away from physical retail and will likely not return.

There is no real magic to Starpower’s recent success. It was a paradigm shift. We adjusted our company from every angle. We stopped referring to ourselves as an “electronics retailer.” Our leadership committed to engaging our clients not by the products, but the “lifestyle” our products offer. Displays were changed. We created a new education platform (StarU), surveyed our clients for suggestions, looked outside our industry for answers, purchased an upscale appliance company, added even more upscale consumer electronics, offered construction services, worked to constantly add more products in our stores that are currently “out of our comfort zone,” and, finally, ownership practiced the patience to allow our people to thrive under this new direction.

We now look at what our particular client “wants” vs. new products we think are important. We push our team to constantly look at the lifestyle of our customer, not just our industry or traditional products. This has opened our eyes to a larger world with bigger opportunities.

Starpower faced (and continues to face) the large challenges associated with consumer electronics retailing. And while we have not “figured it out,” Starpower is well on our way. We had a record sales year last year and a promising start of 2015. But this was not by accident and we didn’t “wait it out” to get our business aligned. We took action. We started by defining what success looks like and know that this journey may never have an end. That is how we will stay alive.

Read more here:: Twice.com

      

Tips for Starting Your Own Business after Appliance Repair Training

Appliance repair training will start you on the path to a successful career, but you should never stop learning along the way.

Appliance repair training will start you on the path to a successful career, but you should never stop learning along the way.

Delving into the appliance repair industry is smart, especially because it is an industry that will be around for the foreseeable future. While you can certainly find a job as an appliance repair technician, there is also the option to create your own business, even if you only intend on having a one-person business.

Fortunately, there are decisions in the beginning and along the way that will help you create success in the beginning, as well as grow your business for success in the long-term.

Continue Learning

While appliance repair training will teach you a lot about what you need to know to repair appliances, you will also find that there are many appliance problems that require further research to diagnose.

It is important to always be learning about new appliance features, models, and to continuously learn about the previous makes, models, and their problems to provide fast and reliable service.

Create a Website

An easy and effective way to promote your business is through a website, which also allows you to build authority in the appliance repair industry to start ranking for local appliance-related keywords.

Writing consistent content is your best way to get ranked well in the search engines, with providing helpful information being a top priority, such as simple tips for maintaining or using certain appliances.

Start Small

When starting any business, you need to have some leeway in terms of backup income. It is important to be able to cover your living expenses for several months because you need time to properly market your business and services to start growing a consistent and reliable customer base.

Getting appliance repair training is the first step to starting your own business in this industry.

Contact us for more information on getting started with your training.

Satechi Expands Into Home Automation

San Diego – Accessories supplier Satechi entered the home-automation market with Bluetooth-controlled LED light bulbs and smart plugs.

The Spectrum IQ Bulb is available for $34.99 along with the IQ Plug at an introductory $29.99 on Satechi.net and Amazon.com. Separate smartphone apps to control each product are free on iTunes and Google Play.

The IQ Bulb is an 8-watt LED lightbulb that fits into any standard socket, delivers up to 25,000 hours of lighting, uses 10 percent less energy than an incandescent bulb, and shines in any of up to 16 million colors. A disco mode syncs the bulb to the beat of music playing on the user’s smartphone.

The Satechi LED Spectrum app controls up to 10 bulbs at once or individually. The app controls on/off, dimming, and timer and scheduling functions

The IQ Plug lets users control plugged-in electronics products and small appliances such as TVs, fans, lamps, humidifiers, and the like. The IQ Plug app also measures power consumption of individual appliances and compares daily, weekly, or monthly energy consumption.

Satechi, founded in 2005, offers home, car and on-the-go accessories such as FM transmitters, battery chargers, speaker systems, car mounts, and keyboards.

Read more here:: Twice.com

      

UHD Alliance Seeking More Members

Los Angeles – Founding members of the multi-industry UHD Alliance have begun to expand membership to add contributing members who will help develop industrywide Ultra HD (UHD) standards for high dynamic range, wide color gamut, high frame rates and advanced audio.

Besides developing technical specifications and certification details, the alliance will help develop industry-standard branding so consumers can identify certified premium UHD content and playback devices.

The alliance was formed to develop technical specs and performance metrics to “deliver a premium entertainment experience throughout the Ultra HD ecosystem from content creation to consumer enjoyment,” the alliance said.

“Following the establishment of our organizational structure, work scope and goals, we are now welcoming new contributing members,” said alliance president Hanno Basse. The combined efforts will “advance and maintain the highest standards for premium entertainment experiences,” he said.

The group, which debuted at International CES, includes founding members from the content-creation, content-distribution, and CE industries. Founding members include DirecTV, Dolby Laboratories, Netflix, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, Technicolor, The Walt Disney Studios, Twentieth Century Fox Film and Warner Bros. Entertainment.

Read more here:: Twice.com

      

Get Your Laundry Room Ready for Optimal Cleaning with Appliance Service

Your household's washer and dryer are probably some of the most heavily used appliances in the house, so it's important to pay attention to maintenance needs.

Your household’s washer and dryer are probably some of the most heavily used appliances in the house, so it’s important to pay attention to maintenance needs.

Although it depends on a number of variables, most families go through numerous loads of laundry per week, which makes both the washer and dryer pretty heavily used appliances.

It is important to keep these maintained for optimal washing and drying, which leads to clean clothing, and this usually involves professional appliance service for repairs, replacement, or maintenance.

Take Care of the Washer

Keeping your washer running strong is essential because this is the first step of the cleaning process, and hand washing clothes can take a considerably long time, especially without a sink in the laundry room.

Maintain the Dryer

While you may be able to dry clothes on a clothesline during certain parts of the year, a dryer provides quick and reliable cleaning, which is essential to have when you have limited space for air drying.

Consider Replacing

If a problem with your washer or dryer is fairly expensive, you should look into replacing the appliance entirely, mainly because you can get a new appliance that will last several years without any issues.

It is also a perfect time to upgrade to a high-efficiency washer or dryer, which will pay for themselves in the long run because they use less energy, and as a result, reduce your energy bills.

A Washer Dryer Combo

When you have a small laundry room to work with, you may want to consider a washer dryer combo. Ideally, these combos are best for small families as they have limited capacity. Also, since they are compact in size, they also take longer for clothes to dry, so having to run multiple loads can have you waiting for several hours before you have clothes that are completely washed and dried.

If you have any questions about washers or dryers, contact us today.