Awards & Engraving

February '19

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A&E FEBRUARY 2019 • a-e-mag.com 63 Chicago, we have an electronics company called Abt. It is an electronics mecca like no other. Every appliance under the sun is on display in their 450,000-square-foot "showroom." Abt is not a showroom per se, but rather a series of lifestyle rooms where you can see the items you are thinking about purchasing in action as though they were in your house. If you are looking for a certain appliance, you can go there and leave knowing everything about it and any competing brands. This is another example of how the big are getting bigger. The model works. On any given week- end day, you struggle to find parking there, and police are directing traffic in front of their store. The business model that Abt employs is twofold: make it so much fun to shop for electronics that you would not think of going anywhere else; and have your footprint be so big that everyone knows who you are, whether they shop in person or online. RH and Abt are two examples of the changing face of retail. It is about edu- cation, perception, and sheer size. It is about impressing the buyer. Despite the large footprints that these two compa- nies have on the brick-and-mortar side, their online presence still rules their rev- enue stream. Companies such as RH and Abt have realized that it takes a multi- pronged approach to attract today's buyer. The chain store models of yesterday will not cut it in today's retail environment. Anyone that puts up a store on the internet or on Main Street needs to think hard about what it is that separates their busi- ness from those with whom they compete. Today's hooks are far more complex than they were even a decade or two ago. A SHAKEOUT OF EPIC PROPORTIONS Whether we choose to admit it or not, in the awards and engraving industry, there is a shakeout of epic proportions. This is in proportion to what we experienced in the past. We read frequently that small retailers are closing, while the larger ones are growing. Those who are investing heavily in technology, internet presence, and infrastructure improvements are well- prepared to move into the future. The days of a trophy or engraving shop in almost every town in America are long gone. The products and services still exist, but fewer players control these. Unfortu- nately there are far less shops today, and our industry has shrunk. This is strictly a symptom of the changing retail environ- ment, as we are not immune to today's different buying habits. Our industry's RHs and Abts have names like Crown, Monarch Trophy Studio, Trophy Depot, Spikes, and K2. This is no secret, as any online search brings any of these companies and a few handfuls more to the forefront. All of these companies have large online marketplaces that were once only a pipedream in our industry. Monarch Trophy Studio in San Antonio even has the closest thing to RH and Abt in our industry: a beautiful and large showroom packed with products and knowledgeable personnel to help customers. Today, these companies and a select few like them are the visionaries who invested heavily in things like search engine opti- mization (SEO) early on, and infrastruc- ture technology and personnel resources in an effort to position them for the long haul. Along with vision, this needs capital investment, and only a select few have the resources to invest what it takes to accom- plish the position in which they now sit. For the most part, they and others like them seem well-positioned for the long haul. Unfortunately it comes at the expense of many small companies that do not find themselves with comparable resources. So as an industry, we are not dying but changing. Fewer players control more of the landscape. There is no reason to think that our industry's buyers are any different than those in other industries. The same socio-economic factors that are prevalent everywhere else exist among those of us in the awards industry. The key to sur- vival is the ability to both recognize what a buyer wants, and to be able to allocate the resources to accommodate those needs. It is critical to accomplish this in today's retail environment. There is no escaping what is happening here. A&E Sales & Marketing

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