Retail Execs Optimistic About 2010

Retail Execs Optimistic About 2010

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Even after a rough year, retailers are excited about the opportunities for 2010, with products and technologies on display at the recently completed International CES and those that we'll see at PMA playing a key role. That's the opinion of the Global Perspective on Retail panel that took place at CES.

Participants in the panel, which was moderated by CEA president/CEO Gary Shapiro, included Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn, Systemax Tech Products Group CEO Gilbert Fiorentino, X-cite CEO Srikant Gokhale and Walmart vice president/general manager of entertainment Gary Severson.

Fresh off the news that broke during CES that Best Buy's December sales were up 13 percent, Dunn proclaimed himself “extraordinarily optimistic” about the new year, especially after “the products we've seen and the meetings we've had” in the opening days of CES.

Severson also proclaimed himself impressed with what he had seen at CES.

A big part of what impressed the execs was the advances of 3D, which from start to finish was Topic A at CES and will get some play at PMA too.

In addition to the potential of 3D TVs and Blu-ray players, Dunn called 3D glasses “a great accessory opportunity,” predicting that some designer brands will eventually enter the space. We also saw some 3D imaging products make news at CES as well, and there will be more at this PMA.

The executives were asked about the problem of customers going into their stores to touch and feel their products, and then actually purchasing them on Amazon. All admitted that it was a problem, but Dunn especially emphasized that giving customers an in-store experience helping them “put it together” is what Best Buy does best.

In order to demonstrate the importance of price, Fiorentino told a story about his daughter, a medical student, who needed to buy a scoping device. It was listed at one price in the school bookstore, but Fiorentino used a BlackBerry application called Edocrab (Barcode spelled backwards) to scan the barcode and find that it was available at a significantly lower price online.

When asked how manufacturers can get their products into stores, Severson recommended they simply “have a great product,” and be original with what they produce.

“It's important that small guys can do something for our customers,” Dunn said, adding that he also recommends that those pitching products “be tenacious.”

In a “lightning round” at the end of the panel, the retailers were posed with a series of product categories and asked whether they would “buy,” “sell” or “hold.” All four panelists answered “buy” to netbooks, e-books, 3D tech, connected TV, mobile TV and 3D gaming.

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