The Company has moved to using merchandisers and a new sales management system that allows Convoy management to track real time sales activities. Nationally merchandisers are now able to log in via a smartphone or tablet, intelligence about stores, merchandising activities and whether retailers are conforming to head office in-store merchandising guidelines, they can report stock levels and take orders.
The introduction of the new system saw 10 sales and support marketing staff retrenched.
The internal sales staff have been replaced by 30 merchandisers who now service retailers nationally across Australia.
The Company has also been split into two divisions, Gary Tye has taken on the newly created role of General Manager – Specialty Audio and Cameron Greig has been given the title of General Manager Mass Market. Both have worked for Convoy for several years.
Convoy who spent over $1M dollars last year on in-store merchandising systems is currently working on the role out of several new products including a new line of accessory merchandise.
Geoff Matthews the CEO of Convoy said “We realised that the market has changed, today it’s all about speed to market, reseller education and in store merchandising. It’s also about working with retailers to drive traffic to our brands. Another key component is having in place the systems that deliver intelligence back to the right decision makers. Distribution has changed and to be succesful going forward we also had to change our go to market model”.
Matthews said that in 2014 Convoy management took the decision to restructure their operation. He said that the business which distributes some of the leading sound brands in Australia including JBL, Bluesound, Harman Kardon, Monster, Bowers and Wilkins and several accessory brands was impacted by Apple’s decision to change the pin structure on their products resulting in Convoy being left with “container loads” of product that overnight stopped being in demand.
“This decision affected us and by mid 2014 our warehouse stock levels had blown out resulting in 60% of our warehouse stock level being old stock. We were also carrying a lot of old component audio spares which in some cases went back years. We decided to take a loss on these products and today we have shifted all this stock out of our systems”.
Matthews said “A lot of distributors concentrate on the sell in, they do very little marketing on the sell-out. At Convoy we invest heavily on the sell-out. We work hard developing marketing programs that drive consumers into retail stores. We invest millions in our brands and this has paid off for us”.
He added “The market today is all about speed, product churn in the consumer electronics market has changed, where a product had a 12 or 18 month life, today that same product category is seeing products on shelves for six months before a replacement product is introduced. Technology innovation is driving this and we have restructured our business to be leaner and more responsive to what is happening in the market”.
Matthews believes that high res audio is set to be a big driver in 2015 with the Company set to take on Sonos in the wireless audio market. The Harman Omni Ba is a home-theatre soundbar with a wireless subwoofer that plays back 24Bit audio.
The system will initially go on sale exclusively at Harvey Norman followed by JB Hi Fi.
Also in the range are the Omni 10 and Omni 20 loudspeakers, these will go up against the Sonos Play 1 speakers.
Using a Harman Kardon Controller app (Android and iOS), owners can pick and choose which speakers you want to play your music on. You can have all of the speakers play the same music, or you can pick different tunes for each room.
Each Omni speaker has a “Follow Me” feature-a single button that you can press to have your music “follow” you around the house. For example, if you start listening to music in the living room, you can walk into the kitchen and tap your kitchen speaker’s LINK button and your music will start playing on your kitchen speaker (and will stop playing on your living room speakers).
This follows the highly successful 2014 launch of Bluesound, a specialist range of Hi Res wireless players from the makers of NAD that offers superior sound from 192 kHz/ 24 Bit sources and streaming from a wide variety of popular internet services.
Also set to be launched by Convoy are the new Reflect Response BT and Synchros S210 BT headphones from JBL.
These headphones have built in gesture control. Instead of using a clumsy remote to switch your music, turn up the volume, or take a phone call, you simply wave your hand near your ear.
The gestures are somewhat intuitive. Wave your hand forward to skip a track, for instance, and wave your hand backward to go back a track. You can also turn the gesture controls off, in the event that you’re in a crowded area or people are constantly putting their hands near your ears.
The headphones will compete head on with new gesture control headphones from Samsung.
Matthews said “We now have two general managers, one for the mass consumer market and one looking after the component audio market. We believe that developments like 24 bit audio will drive both markets and we intend to build out a balanced portfolio of products in both markets. We have been in business for 50 years and only businesses that make tough decisions to change their model going forward will survive, we intend to be one of them”.