Sunday, November 29, 2009

Big Box Stores - Are You Getting Real Value?

Big box electronic stores are best known for one thing - big discounts. Since the inception of high volume, low margin sales, the game of retail has changed, making it harder for reputable mom and pop stores to sustain required profits. Now with the general decline of consumer confidence, signs are showing that even the big box giants are suffering. Since increasing margin is probably not their top priority, the race is on to see how they can possibly gain more sales for the sake of staying alive. Which begs the question: Are you really getting the best value buying from a big box store?

You are probably familiar with this scenario. You head into the store looking for a TV. You find one you like and are ready to purchase. The salesman highly recommends you buy the high end cable because your picture won't look good without it. "Better buy the big power bar too so you get the best sound and picture - only the brand we sell will do this. Get our universal remote, too, it's the best in the industry, and you should really consider our extended warranty".

Nothing really wrong with add on sales. The fact is, you do need some extra equipment these days to get your TV working. But considering that your TV is probably going to have to integrate with a home theatre system and various other components how do you know the cable you're getting is enough or the right length? Do you even need the most expensive cable available? Controlled scientific tests have shown that there could be no discernible difference between an entry level cable and a very expensive one.

When big box stores sell, it seems a lot of focus is put on selling as much as possible, especially higher margin accessories such as wires, brackets, batteries, cleaning products and such. Not only this, they also have to make sure that products are moving. If a piece of equipment is not flying off the floor you better bet that the sales team is pressured to sell it. You may be inclined to buy even if the product is not quite what you need.

As a custom home electronics integrator, I like to take a fresh approach on sales. It's not just about selling individual components and accessories but more about selling whole systems based on a clients' needs and a long term plans if he or she wants quality. If I'm to sell a single component, immediately I'm thinking about how it's going to interact with other components in the house, whether it's going to work with the wiring we ran through walls during construction or whether it's going to be easy to use. For the client I liken this to buying a high performance car. Would you shop various discount vendors for high-end car parts expecting to be able to put together a high quality product? It obviously makes sense to buy a car complete even though it costs more than its individual parts.

Let's not forget the extended service and unique products provided by specialist like Home Digital. Product is delivered to your door free of charge. All products come with full manufacturer warranties and if any equipment should fail we cover the labour to remove, ship and replace it as soon as possible. Furthermore, system are installed with true expertise. Many of the products we carry will never even be found at stores targeting everyday consumers. Advanced automation controllers for example, which require extensive training and knowledge, will continue to be sold to professionals for resale. Only when programmed and installed professionally can they deliver the unparalleled intuitive control they were designed for. Big box stores recognize the growing custom installations market and want to play our game but none yet have truly emulated the value that we provide.

There's no denying the great deals available at big box stores - even I have been known to shop them. I never stop a client from buying there as it's never worth getting involved in such a price war. Should you see that special deal tucked in the Saturday newspaper, be sure to call a home integration expert to find out if purchasing it would be a good decision. It's in our best interest to make sure you're getting the best value in every situation.

Tristan Leynes
Home Digital

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