Look Out JB Hi-Fi: New eTailer To Be “Big Player”

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Appliance king invades online consumer electronics, promising to be a “big player” in the space.

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Appliance Online’s (AO) new retail venture will sell many of the brands already on Brown Box such as Sony, Panasonic, Toshiba, as well as budget brands TCL, Palsonic, Changhong, the Company’s General Manager, Peter Harris, told Channel News.

However “we are looking to expand this” he says. Owned by the Winnings Group, it has a sizeable e-tail portfolio including Winning Appliances, Big Brown Box and Handy Crew.

Founded in 2005 by John Winning, the pure e-tailer is one of the biggest seller of white goods in Oz and recently added deals site Power Buys to its portfolio.

Considering Appliances’ strong position in the white goods space, it now appears to be well positioned to attack the ultra competitive consumer electronics market head on.

Smart TVs (125 models in all, including LED, Plasma and 3D), Blu-ray players and PVRs are all among the major product categories AO is offering, as it makes its first foray into the CE market, announced last week.

Audio wise, everything from Samsung’s mini Hi-Fis, Panasonic’s home theatre systems, Grundig’s DAB + Radio and iLuv speaker docks are all on offer on Appliance Online, alongside white goods like freezers, dishwashers and ovens.

Accessories, iPhone docks, headphones and TV accessories and stands are also being sold.

It’s new electronics sector will remain under the AO brand and website, rather than develop a separate standalone site. “We consider an appliance to be anything with a plug” so didn’t see the need to create a new platform, said Harris.

Third party feedback prompted the move, including Facebook, emails and other in-house 3rd party feedback systems. “A lot of customers wanted this” – basically a ‘one stop shop’ for all appliances from a freezer to a TV.

But it must be noted AO is staying away from smartphones and iPads, so far, although “we rule nothing out..its not on our radar at the moment,” says its GM.

“Its an attractive category but very competitive,” he adds, noting the complexity attached to mobile business with contracts and other issues.

So does AO think there is plenty room in the market for yet another online electronics seller?

“There is demand there, as several major companies including Myer, David Jones and Harvey Norman are all reducing their footprint in CE” Harris told Channel News.

“We’ve such a solid brand now and loyal customer base, so they like to shop with us.”

The company as one of the largest appliance seller Down Under is now far more well known, which it says helps in its new electronics venture.

So what’s Appliances’ website traffic numbers like to date?”

AO has “several hundred thousand” hits per month although Harris would not be drawn on precise figures, saying “we’re (Harris and John Winning) less focused on numbers now,” as their marketing dept. deal with that, a sign of how far the web company has come.

But AO are no shrinking violets and “hope to be one of the big players” in the CE space and are “ambitious…we ‘re not just dipping our toes in the market.” 

So who does AO see as its competitors in the CE space?

“Bing Lee, JB Hi-Fi ..all the big guys, “says Harris, but adds” we’re looking at the market as a whole not just online players. ”

 

But Appliances doesn’t want to drive prices into the ground, either noting the massive price deflation and intense competition  are major issues for retailers looking to compete in the Aus market at the moment.

“There are a lot of smaller sites who have a ‘price to the bottom’ strategy but that not for us”..although “we are going to be competitive,” Harris warns.

Applainces’ also reckons his 24/7 customer service will be a big step towards giving it the competitive edge. “It’s all about service” and what customers want.

The 365 days/round the clock customer service announced last week, means consumers can buy an appliance anytime they want, even 3am. The company’s new warehouse in Perth is also a major boost to its business and logistical capabilities out west.

“A lot of people work shifts and can’t access stores easily, but still want to buy appliances and other CE goods.”

“We listen to our customers.”

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