A lot of manufacturers think branding with 'proprietary technology' names goes a long way to help in their advertising campaigns. While it's in the company's best interest to do so, this creates chaos amongst consumers who are bombarded with various terms from each brand for seemingly similar features that can otherwise be described in more laymen terms. Worse still, you have salesmen walking around who know nothing of the products and repeat the marketing pointers on the item's sales card, and twist and turn their words to echo your smallest inklings of interest to secure your purchase.
While we can't eliminate slipshod sales staff, they and the consumers can better educated of the underlying technology used. This is precisely what Courts is doing in their recently revamped Megastore outlet in Tampines. Step into the AV section and you'll find all the TVs neatly segmented into their various categories such as traditional LCDs, LED-backlit variants and Plasma TVs. With each TV brand having multiple product lines that are almost indecipherable to the common layman, this sort of store-wide general segmentation at least allows shoppers to home-in to the type of TV they hope to get. Don't quite understand what's great about Plasma TVs or the newer LED-backlit LCD TVs? Well each of these sections have a simple description board to relay this quickly and easily. Sales staff need only figure out the differences between one model to the other to relay to the conumers on why they should or should not spend more for these extras given their TV preference. We really hope to see more of this taking place with other product types on the retail level to better educate and highlight the bigger differences to the consumer. In the long run, the retailers' efforts in helping consumers shop smartly and efficiently is definitely going to improve their bottom-line.
Yet another effort taken by Courts and brand owners are the Connectivity Hubs and Brand Concept Hubs. Big vendors like LG, Samsung, Sony and others have various product offerings and with the increase in connectivity standards, there is a greater need to simplify connectivity standards amongst them. While the steadily growing number of DLNA enabled devices help in this aspect, many might not be aware of the interaction capabilities, let alone know how to do it . The connectivity Hubs ensure consumers are given a hands-on overview to accomplish this. For example, heading to Samsung's Connectivity Hub allows you to try taking a photo, showing it off on the TV and even send it for printing - all done wirelessly and put into action in a very innovative manner at the Connectivity Hub. Give it a shot when you head down to the Courts Megastore outlet.
AV products aside, how about the realm of notebooks and PCs? Surely there must have been a time either for you or someone close who has related how they've browsed what's available in retail but have no clue what suits their needs. Again salesmen aren't the best advisors more than half the time as they're equally trying to grasp the frequently evolving platforms. Sure you can make out which product has more memory, hard disk space and faster CPU from the sales cards, but the question is exactly how much is required.
To help alleviate some of these problems, AMD is heavily promoting their Vision branding which has four basic tiers:- Standard, Premium, Ultimate and Black. While the naming scheme isn't self-explanatory, AMD's Vision branding evolves on a yearly basis to profile the capabilities for each Vision tier and the expected specs. Whether retail stores will have space to display this information properly is yet to be seen. What we know for sure is AMD's channel outreach to educate retail owners so that when the consumer requests for a product with good gaming and multimedia handling for example, the salesperson can simply advise users to look out for products bearing the Vision Ultimate logo. It makes the task of recommending and finding what the end-user needs simpler. It's not perfect as we've lamented in the past, but at least AMD is taking an active role to simplify purchasing for the end-users.
The bottom line is, brand owners and manufacturers should put more thought to keep things simple and clear for consumers to enhance their experience right from the point of purchase - not traumatize them to grapple with specs and jargon. Apple is leading the mobile gadget space with their iPhone, iPod series and are doing great in the computers and notebook departments too. They are a great example in not confusing their consumers but still churn out technologically advanced products that are sought after by the world over. While Apple is probably an extreme and isolated case of getting a job done right, the above are great examples by brand owners and even the retailers to improve consumer's buying experience and we hope this continues to accelerate and permeate throughout the industry.
Vijay Anand / Editor of HardwareZone.com
A pioneering contributor of HardwareZone.com since its inception in 1998, his keen interest in DIY computing has helped establish standards for testing, reporting, layout and styling of online articles. As the Editor of the site since 2005, he oversees all content production with the editorial team and the several contributors who power the portal and maintain the popular forums.