Analyst: hhgregg's sales force will help it thrive
Tuesday's column was about the challenges and opportunities facing hhgregg, the rapidly expanding consumer-electronics chain that recently opened six stores in metro Baltimore. Scott Tilghman, who follows the company for Hudson Square Research, emailed me after the piece was published with a few extra thoughts.
He thinks I didn't give enough emphasis to hhgregg's trained, commissioned sales force, the growing complexity of consumer electronics and hhgregg's strength in appliances such as washers and dryers. In particular, he says, a smart sales force will better help customers navigate the increasingly complicated world of TV, with its Internet and 3D options. It's probably true that Circuit City's demise was accelerated by its decision to fire its most experienced, highly paid sales folks a few years ago. hhgregg's experts will help the chain stand out over the discounters that just sell you a screen without making sure it's what you need or telling you how to hook it up to your home network, says Tilghman. He says:
We have moved from an era where products are bought to an era where they are sold. In the former, many products were self contained and relatively easy for consumers to work. In the latter, there is far more complexity resulting from product line extensions, individual product capabilities, and of course the ability to connect devices across product categories (phones to computers to TVs, etc). The expertise of a trained and tenured salesforce is far more useful to a customer than the grab and go model of a discount store, in our view.