How and when did your retail store start? How many stores do you have? You also have an online store. What is the main difference between your online operation and your local showrooms?
Leon Temiz: Electronics Expo began in 2003, about 17 years now. This store we are in, we just built. We have another store in Union, N.J. Our headquarters are close by in Wayne, N.J., as are our distribution center and our offices. We publish our catalogues four quarters every year, and we mail them to our customer list. We have them available in the stores, and also when we do online sales, when we send out the packages, we insert the catalogues as well. We print about 100,000 of these catalogues. And it works for selling, but it also does a couple of other things: we are keeping the connection to our customers that way, when you show them new models and ideas about what is going on with us. In our new one that we are going to print, we include a lot of store pictures; then, customers can come and see the store, where all the items are on display. We have our retail stores, we have our on-site locations, and also we do third-party selling with Amazon, Walmart and other key partners. With Amazon, we have [collected] 180,000 reviews – that is very impressive, and we have 5-star ratings. Customer service is incredibly important to us. We have a very educated salesforce on the fl oor. If customers have an issue with their speaker or receiver, they can call our 800 number and talk to sales. Its not only about selling online; it is also very much about service for the customers. The main difference is, there are still a lot of consumers out there who really want to feel it and touch it, here in the store – especially if you buy high-end speakers, they need to hear the differences. Online, virtually, it would be impossible to hear the difference, and you’d have to order five different speakers, to listen at home to compare – and you cannot do that. The reason why people still come to our retail location is the experience – seeing, touching, feeling, experiencing the differences – and to get the educated opinion of our salesforce.
What makes your retail business unique from others?
Leon Temiz: Number One is our store design. In our stores we literally have created a very, very comfortable atmosphere. The store is designed to not only have listening area and a sound room where you can compare speaker to speaker. We also have a total home theater. We have so many customers coming in, saying, “I want to have exactly this.” And not only do we provide electronics; we provide shading, lighting systems, an indoor/outdoor product experience including lighting – we offer total solutions. So when the customer comes in and says they want everything, we get it done. We also work with contractors, if they need special cabinets, who can build it for them as well as offering ready-to-go furniture, as you see, in the stores.
What are the top three things that you have done that have contributed most to your success?
Leon Temiz: Customer service is very important, and makes for the consistent basis that we have, talking to our customers. In the 17 years that we are in business, we have had a quarter of a million local customers who have shopped with us, in New Jersey. We constantly direct-mail the catalogues that we have – over 50 pages, and of first-class design, and they are very informative. Nothing in the catalogue says, “this is on sale” or “on discount.” This is not a price-driven business that we have. As much as we can, we educate our customers. If there is something new, let’s say 8K TV, if the customer has bought a 2K or 4K TV, immediately, we will send emails asking if he wants to upgrade his system – and we invite him to come in and see the differences. These are a lot of components to customer relationships; each of them helps us, so that our customers come back in to our shops. It is great that you decided to open a new store during the pandemic.
What made you decide to do this?
Leon Temiz: Retail is an important part of our business, and in the longer term, we still believe in retail. It is important to have a store presence, especially with the products that we sell, and the way we merchandise them; it is a niche that we believe is still important to have. A lot of our customers who come to our stores get ideas from them. That is why we [are so successful in promoting the building of] home offices, conference rooms and home cinemas. It gives them the idea, and causes them to think, “Oh, wow; I did not know about this. I want it.” It generates additional business for us.
Is there anything special that makes the new store unique?
Leon Temiz: This is the newer, updated version of our existing store. The color scheme is more down to earth. The other store also has sound rooms, but we took this store to the next level. And we took some of the best ideas and transferred them to the other store.
What are other goals have you set for yourself this year?
Leon Temiz: We did a lot of events prior to the pandemic. We had a lot of manufacturers coming in. What we did is, we introduced all the new lines in our stores. We had wine and cheese, we invited our top-level customers and at the same time we demonstrated new products. That generates a lot of people coming in. Right now, as soon as we are done, we will be having a Grand Opening event. If it is possible, we want to do it in March. Whatever the limit of people allowed to come is, we will follow it. In this large store, 30 to 40 people is probably allowed.
Do you expect to be promoting any new product trends in your stores?
Leon Temiz: Right now, as I think of it, we are going into the summer season, so, outdoors. We find more and more people, since they are not traveling, are looking for outdoor TVs and outdoor lighting as you see in the showroom. That kind of thing is important. And since we got into the indoor and outdoor lighting systems category, we are not only in the electronics business, but we are also in the home interior living business. It’s lifestyle; we offer different kinds of furniture, cabinets, automated shading.
Are you looking to expand in any other ways or to sell other categories?
Leon Temiz: Our next thing is, we also do security systems and cameras, so we may be getting involved in alarm systems, in subcontracting alarm systems. We are already installing a range of these types of things; you can see the cameras and Nest products. So right now, that is what it is. Everything is connected; the Number One control hub is the phone, from where customers can control everything they
Is there anything in the building of your business that might have not gone the way you liked, and from which you learned?
Leon Temiz: We learned how to live with the business when the retail location was closed. We learned that it was important that we still keep in touch with the customers, with how they were doing, with ways to service them. But hopefully this situation will soon pass through. At the same time our Internet business was open. We found by keeping good will with our customers, we got an incredible amount of appreciation in return.
What is your favorite corner of the store? Can you show me?
Leon Temiz: Each corner is different. There are a few areas. In the home theater there is the seating area, and then we have the shades – if you close down the shades, it is completely dark, and if you open up the shades, it is totally bright. That really shows the customers that even if they have very bright houses, we can still build great home theaters. And then we have indoor/outdoor TVs; that also makes customers feel good. And obviously, when you walk into the home office area, it looks like a home office, a nice office. And also it is important, we believe, to show the home office. When everything is fine and COVID is gone, and everybody’s lifestyle has changed, less people are going back to offices; more people will continue working from home.
How did you overcome the obstacles the pandemic presented in showing a great customer experience?
Leon Temiz: Every store was closed at the beginning. We did only online business then. But we are very established in our online business; we have been dealing with Amazon for 17 years.
What is your source of information about new products?
Leon Temiz: I think Dealerscope can help us in learning what is new with up-and-coming vendors. If you look at what happened during the pandemic, a lot of technology companies and software companies were doing great – online companies like Facebook, Snapchat, etc. Dealerscope can help by doing what it does: keeping track of new companies that do the kinds of things that could be the next big thing; and those are highlights that can also help us. So many companies start up in business and they go out of business. Dealerscope’s coverage of companies can serve as a “technology check,” pointing to this or that brand or technology. It’s great to receive that sort of information in advance.