News > i3

Supporting Young, Independent Tech Retailers

Some might ask, “Why would anyone want to be an independent tech retailer today?” This is a relevant question with all the headlines about Amazon Prime, the incredible shrinking Sears, the demise of Toys R Us, and other dire retail headlines.

The truth is, plenty of young entrepreneurs want to become independent retailers. They know that in a world of international corporate giants that dominate the industry, there is still a niche for regional dealers that can sell profitably and provide hands-on service of tech and related products.

This generation’s emerging retail entrepreneurs know millennials and others want to buy local. They can see the rewards of inheriting a family business, or buying an established independent from a founding family willing to sell, and using today’s buying groups’ purchasing power and internet marketing capabilities to establish themselves as profitable dealers of major brands in local counties and cities.

This may seem like heresy for some industry veterans, but in hindsight during the booming post-World War II era it was a lot easier to enter the business than someone starting or taking over an existing tech-related retail operation today. Fifty years ago, there were many major retailers but none with the size and clout of Amazon, Apple, Best Buy, Home Depot and Lowes that now control national and international market share. Yet independents, who sell major tech brands like LG, Samsung, Sony and others profitably, are in demand.

Nurturing the Next Generation

Many young retail entrepreneurs may lack the day-to-day business savvy and business contacts within the industry to achieve their dreams. Enter today’s retail buying groups, to cultivate these emerging retailers. A recent example is an event held by the Associated Volume Buyers (AVB), whose lineup includes ProSource, the major consumer electronics buying group, and BrandSource, its appliance, electronics and home furnishings division. AVB held a three-day meeting at Lake Tahoe, CA, in June for retail members from their 20s to 40s called the Young Professionals University.

The University was created in 2016, two years after a group of the same name was formed. This was an educational event to go over nuts-and-bolts business training in marketing, rebranding and communications to “build consumer loyalty and drive profitability,” the group said, as well as a networking opportunity for this special group of dealers.

Among the presenters was Google’s Andrew Leonard, who discussed artificial intelligence and the Google Hardware program and how these will impact independents in the future. The need for independent retailers is still there, not only for suppliers who want to sell their products profitably, but also for consumers who want to buy major home tech products with confidence that they have the delivery and service support they need. In the case of AVB, it has 4,500 independent dealers that generate an estimated $19 billion in annual sales.

Yes, independent retailers serve suburban and urban neighborhoods, as well as small towns nationwide, but that type of sales volume and subsequent profits should not go away anytime soon. With the help of existing buying groups and suppliers, the independent retailers will continue to thrive.

Steve Smith was the former editor-in chief of TWICE.

Steve Smith