By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY: Retailers need to stop focusing on price and start concentrating on the enormous opportunity the digital TV switchover presents to the market. That’s the view of Sony Australia managing director Carl Rose.

Speaking today at the Get Ready for Digital TV conference in Sydney, Rose said that the currently low penetration rates of digital-ready televisions, combined with the large number of analogue sets running off set top boxes, means that there is enormous potential for savvy retailers to make big profits in the lead up to the switchover.

“83 per cent of shoppers have needs other than the lowest price,” said Rose. “Price becomes the default position when other information is not made clear.”

For Sony, the way to solve this problem is to keep retailers’ knowledge levels up to date with the shifts in technology. This is a view he shares with Harvey Norman executive director David Ackery.

“No matter how simple it is to get the digital signal, large numbers will still have difficulty,” said Ackery. “There has to be a clear real message to everyone in this change.”

This is precisely what Rose wants for the suppliers in this industry.

“Consumers go to retailer outlets at several points through the purchase process,” said the Sony boss. “Retailers are still the most vital point in this process.”

If the retailers armed with the clear and concise information to service customers, then consumers will be ready to spend, and this is the great opportunity Rose envisages. And at the heart of this opportunity is the upselling potential of the new technologies.

“Upsell consumers from set top boxes to internal digital transmitters [digital-ready panels],” said Rose.

“Let’s be realistic about where the market is already at, we need to make sure the consumer is aware of the options: set top boxes are just the entry level into the domain.

“Do consumers really want a pile of boxes under their television? We want to communicate to the market the choice.”

Rose called for the Government and the industry to now move forward aggressively to give the necessary information to customer and retailers.