Posts Tagged ‘retailing’

Retailing Questions Continue for Powersports

October 4, 2010

Wells Fargo Consumer Conference

There wasn’t much to excite investors at the recent two-day consumer conference held by Wells Fargo Securities, according to a report issued by the company last week. The conference was held Sept. 29-30 in New York, but there were not many powersports companies among the 64 firm that gave presentations to the analysts. Perhaps the best known powersports participants were Arctic Cat and Brunswick. Other related companies included International Speedway Corp., Penske Automotive, Tractor Supply, Marine Products, and U.S. Auto Parts Network.

Several trends ran through the presentations, according to reports compiled by attending analysts. These include: A continuing major shift to online marketing in a number of forms; personalized marketing is growing, using the Internet and social media to drive sales at online and bricks and mortar sites; increased sourcing costs which could put pressure on margins even though many companies are operating in a more efficient manner, and holiday inventories seem to be in good shape.

“Powersports retail sales visibility likely will be clouded until the beginning of seasonal sales in March,”  Senior analyst Tim Conder wrote in his conference summary report. Near-term price movements of powersports stocks most likely will be tied to general economic activities, he wrote. In his conclusion about the leisure segment, Conder says he likes certain toy companies, followed by cruise lines and powersports companies. Not a real strong recommendation.

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Customer Service Isn’t Dead

April 10, 2010

It’s Alive and Blossoming at Your Apple Store

It’s easy today to wring your hands and really despair over the state of customer service by America’s retailers. Plenty of examples of disinterested, couldn’t-care-less service practices pop up every day. But things aren’t as bad as they might seem. Actually, customer service is offered at a very high level in some places. Just visit your friendly Apple computer store and you’ll see what I mean.

It’s refreshing if you’re a consumer and educational if you’re a retailer.

First, a disclaimer: I’ve been an Apple guy since I bought my first computer 25 years ago. It was a MacIntosh SE, the third machine in the revolutionary MacIntosh line. I never regretted that purchase, nor have I regretted any of the many Apple purchases I’ve made since then. Today, I’m a dedicated iPhone user; in fact, I do almost as much work for Dealernews and its website on my phone as I do on my laptop.

Back to my point: Apple has two things going for it: It knows how to meet market needs and it knows how to take care of its customers. Let’s talk about customers.

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Online Retailers Getting Better at Service — How About You?

April 1, 2010

Does your dealership sell online? How’s your follow up? How are you helping your customers with the buying experience or are they just free to roam and stumble?

Thought we’d pass along this bit of info from Internet Retailer magazine.

According to E-tailing Group Inc., more online retailers have made their websites easier to shop and are responding promptly to consumer inquiries. The group’s 12th annual Mystery Shopping Study found that such top retailers/e-tailers as REI Co-op and Blue Nile responded to customer e-mails in less than 30 minutes.

The study also found that the organizations E-tailing Group 100 study group allows shoppers  to sort site search results by price, category and brand. Also, most of these businesses link to social networking sites.

Other interesting findings? About 60 percent of the businesses in the study group over guides, how-to content with audio and/or video on their websites. And a bit more than half offer video product demos on product pages.

Keep in mind that these are the websites/retailers training your customers on what to expect from their internet shopping experience. Just as Nordstroms, Banana Republic, the Apple store, and Best Buy are training them what to expect of brick & mortar retailers.

In other words, as time goes on and as new generations of people get into powersports — or when older enthusiasts return to riding — they are going to have an entirely different set of wants and needs from their retailing experience. What does this mean for your dealership? The best way to find out is to go out and shop the major retail stores in your area and take careful note of how you’re treated or mistreated. Steal, beg or borrow new ideas from those businesses who are competing with you for your customers’ expendable cash.

Consumers Loosening Purse Strings

March 30, 2010

Some Reasons for Optimism this Selling Season

Good news for retailers in today’s Wall Street Journal: personal spending in February rose 0.3% from the month before, the fifth consecutive month it has climbed. That’s pretty interesting for three reasons:

  1. February had plenty of really bad weather in many major markets across the East and South, enough to keep many shoppers at home;
  2. Personal income was flat from the previous month so consumers didn’t have any extra money to use for shopping, and
  3. Consumers have reduced the amount they are stuffing into savings accounts, perhaps giving them more money to use for discretionary spending.

Consumers were spending at an annual rate of 3.1% in 1Q, according to the WSJ, the strongest pace since 1Q of 2007. The report says consumers are spending money on big ticket items, such as furniture.

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