Exclusive by Patrick Avenell

The conflict between specialist consumer electrical stores and the mass market stores took a surprise turn this morning, with a 12-year veteran of the premium market saying that too many specialist dealers are jealous of the Harvey Normans of the world. Instead of looking at how the grass is greener, specialists should focus on making the most of their own advantages.

“A lot of specialist dealers in the past and now look to the Harvey Normans, Retravisions et cetera with a degree of envy. They complain about buy price inequalities and often have the attitude, ‘it’s not fair, how come they get what they get and I don’t?’,” said Owen Rogers of Belmont Stereo Systems.

“What they fail to realise is that Harvey Norman may buy $15 million of product from a supplier and they buy $15,000: it is simple economics to see who will buy better.”

So safe in the knowledge they’re not buying well, how do specialists make any money? Rogers thinks the answer is in acceptance.

“Specialist retailers who know their market simply have to disregard the ‘what’s your best price for cash’ mentality and focus on ‘how can we make our customers transition into this new technology simple and easy for them’.”

“Through that you are offering a value added service that many people are willing to pay a premium for.”

Rogers believes that from acceptance comes understanding, not just of the consumer, but also of the retailers own place in the purchase process. Once in this position, the specialist retailer is as well positioned as any Harvey Norman or Good Guys store to close the sale.

“A specialist store who understands their place in the feeding chain of price and supply accepts this and focuses on the benefits of buying from a specialist.

“If you cannot convince your customers of the value you are offering by maybe paying a premium then they are customers you don’t want.”

Rogers concluded by saying that the role of the specialist is to take care of a purchase, make it work and look after the customer for the life of the product. Most of all, complaining isn’t the key to success.

“Specialists need to stop complaining about the big players and focus on the point of difference they can make from the rest of the pack. In this you will find your sales grow, you make the margin you need to make and you have customers that will come back to you time and time again.”

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