Next Specialist Opportunity
Connectivity is changing our Industry faster than we know. It’s time to get in front of it. Looking toward the future and crystal ball aside, none of us can truly say we know what tomorrow will bring. What we do know is that past trends, today’s business and new technology advancements all play a role. As an industry, we are facing challenges to find good people, integrate into newer automobiles and overcome ever shrinking margins with competition from growing online sales. I have been both encouraged and distressed as I listen to retailers across this land. Some are stating signs of recovery while others continue to struggle. Some have hope of recovery, while others are awaiting the other boot to drop. Their statements, coupled with news of some key regional and national chains closing shop and others scaling back their interest seem to point to an opportunity for some market share growth for the independent specialist. However, outside of market share growth, our economy still appears to have some potholes on the road to recovery. As an industry of retailers with strong ties to the automotive industry, we also need to be real about our future prospects and plan accordingly. Significant Factors Now that I have you thinking, let’s look at the factors that are affecting the mobile electronics industry. Sales of new automobiles are up, but the last quarter was down year-over-year. There is also a focus toward self-driving vehicles that leaves our industry unsure of the future for upgrading the automobile. The consumer electronics market is booming albeit online, while leaving many brick-andmortar retailers behind. Our core categories for mobile electronics traditional are audio, video, security, convenience and the emerging category of safety. What is new for these categories is that they are or soon will be connected to the cloud. This connection is part of a much larger category that is referred to as Internet of Things (IoT). When it comes to lifestyle-based technology, consumers are flocking to anything in the “connected” realm. These are products communicating with each other and allow them to efficiently network, communicate and explore the world around them. This shift to IoT delivers the consumer seamless connectivity and opens a plethora of new opportunities. When looking at the IoT market, the automobile becomes just another room in the house. This new room will require installation services as these devices become mainstream in the automobile. What It Takes What does it take to get known as the “IoT Installation Specialist”
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in your area? An understanding of what challenges the consumer has when using these products in the automobile and an awareness of where and how to communicate with these consumers. You can start by looking at the big picture of products related to IoT and how they interact with the automobile and the consumer. Our industry is well positioned to innovate and deliver products and services that speak to, and satisfy the lifestyle demands of the IoT consumer looking for seamless connections of their devices regardless of where they are or what they are doing. This new IoT opportunity may require a shift in your advertising and presentation to become a driving force for business in your store. Let’s face it, we are dependent on the automotive industry. To become less dependent we should look at ways to diversify and IoT could very well be that way! Research the Category To research this emerging category, you need go no further than your own store. Assuming you or your staff use products in this technology category, think about what you would like to be able to do with these connected products in the automobile. Take that knowledge and look for products that meet the challenge. If the idea you have does not exist, let your suppliers know. Your conclusion may provide a nice source of revenue for the future. Next, take a field trip to places that sell IoT products. Your first tip only requires a web browser. Go to SmartThings.com. This is a website created by Samsung that has a plethora of products. Take a few minutes review all the IoT products that are available. Then think about how this relates to products for the automobile. Amazon’s Alexa is a good example of what could become a great aftermarket IoT opportunity. You may be surprised at how many consumers have no idea of the experience you are able to create for them in this emerging category. Our passion as an industry is built around technology and the automobile. This is what we do. Our lack of a plausible alternative may be a cause for concern and even leave you perplexed and rather anxious. However, it may allow you to begin the process of analyzing options for the future like becoming an IoT Installation Specialist.