Hundreds of Dealers to Open ‘Connected Source’ Stores
With $3.6B in buying power, dealer group ProSource launches a franchise-like program for independent CE pros to present a united front to consumers.
A new home connectivity store will be opening up in CE pro showrooms throughout North America, potentially giving the custom industry its first national presence.
The store, called Connected Source, is an initiative of ProSource, a dealer group formed by the merger this year of the PRO Group and Home Entertainment Source. ProSource, a division of AVB/BrandSource, is a consortium of 550 specialty A/V retailers and custom integrators with more than 950 storefronts and $3.6 billion in retail sales.
While the group of independent resellers provides a united front to vendors, it does not do the same for consumers. There is no single brand to market nationwide.
Announced during the ProSource Summit in Orlando this week, Connected Source is a store-within-a-store concept “like Magnolia is to Best Buy,” says Jim Ristow, Executive VP of HES.
Connected Source: ‘Sort of Like True Value’
ProSource members buy into the program as they might for a franchise, but Connected Source is not a franchise. Members, for example, pay no royalties.
But they must build a space within their business – roughly 300 square feet – to the exact specifications of Connected Source. Everything will look the same from store to store, from the signage to the products to the demos and even the paint colors and flooring.
“We have the perfect space for it,” says Chris Caston of Innovative Concepts in Decatur, Ind.
Sample Connected Source Showroom, as presented during ProSource Summit 2011. Click to enlarge.
Caston was one of many ProSource members eager to sign up for Connected Source. During the Summit announcement, roughly two-thirds of the attendees raised their hands when asked if they were interested in the program.
At a loss for how to use their spare space, Caston and his wife Tina said they appreciated the “canned solution for merchandising all of these technologies.”
They also looked forward to a national marketing campaign for the brand.
“I think that’s the boost we independents need,” Chris Caston says. “When they Google it [Connected Source], it looks all the same.”
Dealers keep their own company names, but enjoy the additional Connected Source branding “sort of like True Value,” says Ristow. “Like you might have Tom’s True Value.”
Retailers aren’t the only ones to benefit from a national brand, says Ristow: “Vendors get a consistent presentation nationally.”
In addition, Ristow explains, “Vendors all want a national referral network,” which can be achieved through Connected Source.
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at [email protected]
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