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WAVE’s Hand-Pick Warehouse Boosts Avg. Sale

‘Retail-esque’ warehouse is faster for dealers than waiting behind the counter.


WAVE Electronics' hand-pick warehouse has become the distributor's new "silent salesperson."
Jason Knott · November 24, 2010

Call it Home Depot meets custom distribution.

Imagine you’re at your local distributor. You quickly select every product you want yourself, without ever having to wait at the counter for an available sales associate. Well, this is the new “wave” of distribution if WAVE Electronics has anything to say about it.

The Texas-based distributor has converted its southeast Houston branch into a “hand-pick warehouse” that allows dealers to enter the climate-controlled warehouse (not just the upfront showroom) and, using carts just like at Home Depot or Lowe’s, take products off the shelves and go to the checkout counter.

All Products Except Heavy Ones
With the exception of products that might require forklifts (furniture, large displays), dealers can just grab a basket and get bulk wire, connectors, IR emitters, whole-house music systems, specialty cable, components, cameras, speakers, smaller flat-panel TVs, and more. No more “bad luck” of arriving behind guys who are purchasing what seems like a year’s worth of products that delays you by hours. (Think of all the donuts you won’t eat while waiting.)

“It’s amazing how the dealers have taken to it. It’s been a huge success,” says Mark Fukuda, president of WAVE, a member of the Powerhouse Alliance that was formed one year ago with 10 members.

Shelves are labeled on steel racks with detailed signage, making it easy for shoppers. Dealers can still opt to send in orders and pick it up at the Will Call desk, but Fukuda estimates 80 percent of the dealers use the hand-pick area, and it has led to an average per-ticket increase of 12 percent.

Photos: Inside WAVE’s Hand-Pick Warehouse

Why? Fukuda says it’s because while they are walking the aisles, dealers often see:

  • A product they need for the next job
  • A “forgotten product” that is not on their purchase list
  • A product they did not realize WAVE carried

“It’s impossible for the counter guy to think of everything an integrator might need on a job,” Fukuda says. “Besides, it’s much faster for the dealers. They are not spending any time at the counter trying figure out what they need.”

Fukuda identified high-end A/V cables, surge protection and control products as the three product categories that have seen the biggest boost in sales since the conversion.

“We can’t keep some products in stock now that we have never had success selling before,” he says.

Converting More Branches
Setting up the warehouse was a big job. WAVE had to breakdown all its stock off pallets, clean the area, properly code every product with plastic bags or tags, create merchandising/signage/point-of-purchase displays, and, most importantly, convert the warehouse to an air conditioned/heated space.

WAVE experienced 20 percent growth from its six branches, with the Houston branch up 12 percent since May 2010 when the self-pick warehouse opened. Fukuda says WAVE is converting other branches to the self-pick style, including the San Antonio location set to open soon. Austin, Dallas and New Orleans will also be looked at.

“It’s retail-esque,” says Fukuda, possibly coining a new word in his description of the facility. “I love Home Depot and Lowe’s. I like shopping there. I wanted to improve the wait times at our counters. Also, it’s always hard to keep dealers informed about all the different products we carry. This way, they see them.”

“The self-pick warehouse has become our ‘silent salesperson,’” he adds.



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  About the Author

Jason Knott is Chief Content Officer for Emerald Expositions Connected Brands. Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990, serving as editor and publisher of Security Sales & Integration. He joined CE Pro in 2000 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of that brand. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He has been a member of the CEDIA Business Working Group since 2010. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Jason at jason.knott@emeraldexpo.com

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  Article Topics


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