Re-Charging Consumer Electronics1 Dec, 2008 By: Jacqueline Renfrow Response
After a disappointing second half of the year, electronics retailers are looking to DR to reinvigorate 2009 sales.
Another company that has found a way to capitalize on DR both for E-commerce and brick-and-mortar stores is Systemax Inc., the parent company of TigerDirect and CompUSA. After an acquisition in early 2008, CompUSA now has only 17 retail stores and TigerDirect has 11 retail outlets (which will all become CompUSA locations in 2009, while Tiger will become Web-only retailer).
According to Lonny Paul, director of E-commerce for CompUSA.com, in the past few years, CE marketing has transitioned from an industry heavily reliant on catalogues and the Web to one utilizing new technologies for customer convenience. A lot of the changes are in response to consumers' demands to choose when and how often they are marketed to. Paul has seen a lot of success marketing through RSS, Twitter and SMS, where, "people don't have to take action if they don't want to," he contends.
About a year-and-a-half ago, Paul and the Systemax team turned to online video as a way to DR-market its CE products. Since then, the company has launched 1,700 videos either on the company's Web sites or on its YouTube TigerDirectBlog. Systemax partnered with YouTube six months ago because of the popularity of the hits it was getting — logging more than 30 million views.
"It's had a big impact on the company and the way consumers interact with us," says Paul. "The videos are six-to-eight minutes long, and they're not a sales pitch or a form of home shopping. They're informative and show every port on a product — or if it's a digital camera, you can see an actual photo taken with the product. What better way to understand than to watch."
Through videos on YouTube, the company has acquired 16,000 new subscribers. Paul says it is due to the nature of the weekly show, which is fun and entertaining, while interactive.
Systemax plans to expand its online video channel in 2009 by debuting a television series. "It's kind of a 'While You Were Out' meets technology," explains Paul. And these videos, will never end with a deal closer or a sales pitch, but rather a direction: "For more information, check out these Web sites."
Also in the works for 2009, Comp-USA is marrying the power of the Internet and the in-store retailer with what it calls "Retailing 2.0."
"We're really an Internet-based company," says Paul. "There are so many things you can do online that you can't do in retail. But, still only 2 percent of sales are done through E-commerce, so we combine the best of both worlds."
In this new project, CompUSA is outfitting all of its in-store products with an Internet-ready PC. So when a customer approaches an in-store item, with the click of a mouse, he or she pulls up the product's information page, which includes how-to videos and views of the product from all angles.