The retail industry plays an enormous role in the health of the U.S. economy as a whole. In fact, an estimated two-thirds of the nation’s gross domestic product comes from retail consumption. And right now, the retail market is gradually bouncing back from a significant recession – and once again starting to infuse investment into the future.
For value-added resellers (VARs) like yourself, this ongoing investment means that the retail industry is once again an area of growth. Retailers are especially becoming more open to incorporating technology, including pro AV systems, into their store-fronts and back-end operations. And professional audio-visual equipment is helping to lead the charge.
The retail market holds incredible potential for VARs who specialize in pro AV systems. However, this unique industry also requires some special considerations. Keep these five tips in mind when selling pro AV systems to the retail industry:
1. Pro AV technology can wear a lot of hats in the retail industry.
For retailers, pro AV isn’t just about projectors and audio systems. Today, retail AV also encompasses digital menu boards and signage, video conferencing systems, microphones, lighting and control solutions, and more. Modern pro AV systems can help improve customer service and in-store experiences, train new employees, seamlessly connect retail branches to the corporate office, advertise the brand, inform customers and more.
When working with retailers, think big. Consider how pro AV can help every area of their business—rather than focusing on one particular system or device.
2. Signage is booming.
Expect many of your digital signage customers to require alternatives to traditional, static signage. Digital signage is especially booming, for a variety of reasons: the price of LED and LCD screens is falling, digital signage can provide a strong ROI over static signage and today’s tech-savvy customers simply expect to encounter digital signage when shopping.
Digital signage, which includes digital screens and projector systems, is especially popular for customer information and wayfinding, advertising and brand awareness, entertainment (and “infotainment”), and establishing ambiance. Think creatively; many of your customers might be able to use several different signage systems for various functions.
3. Some customers might be completely new to this level of technology.
For many retailers, pro AV technology will be uncharted territory. Meanwhile, others might be completely comfortable with the software, hardware, cabling and devices that make up their new solution. When meeting with a potential customer, keep this disparity in mind, and be sensitive to the various levels of tech-savvy that you might encounter.
4. ROI might be difficult to demonstrate.
More often than not, retail pro AV is going to provide intangible ROI to your customers. Rather than, for example, seeing an immediate 15 percent increase in sales, most of your retail customers will instead see more gradual changes, such as better service, improved customer experience and more effective new employee training.
From the start of each new project, be open and honest with your customer about your ROI expectations. If their ROI will likely be tangible, share your expectations. If ROI is going to be difficult to demonstrate, explain why. That way, their understanding of ROI is in line with yours, right from the beginning.
5. Some areas of the industry are booming more than others.
Not every area of the retail market has rebounded completely yet. Over the next several years, you may want to focus your sales efforts on those verticals that are experiencing the strongest growth, and keep an eye on industry statistics to gauge where to channel your efforts.
The most recent Census data shows that the areas of health and personal care and motor vehicle sales are among the strongest in the industry for 2014, and likely will for the next several years. When looking at your pro AV prospects, you might want to prioritize businesses that fall under these categories.
What other considerations would you add to this list? What types of retailers have led to the most pro AV business for your company?