- Written by Christian Wissmuller
- Published: 22 January 2014
Just as technology continues to drastically – and rapidly – change the ways in which we all gather information, create and consume music and entertainment, and connect with one another, technological developments have unquestionably impacted how organizations and individuals conduct business.
The Winter NAMM Show was once the site of where many retailers and suppliers conducted the bulk of that quarter’s – and, for some, even the coming year’s – business. The advent of the Internet, email, and online commerce platforms has altered all of that.
“My buying habits are totally different [than in the past],” says Owensboro Music Center’s Gordon Wilcher. The results of our recent survey, sent out to over 400 MI retailers indicate that 28 percent “used to do much more actual business at the Show” and 42 percent do “far less (or even none at all) business at NAMM, compared to 10 years ago.”
But the NAMM get-together nonetheless remains valid, as strong (in recent years, typically increased) attendance and exhibitor numbers each year attest. The Anaheim gathering is one of the primary engines that drives the industry, with brands introducing significant new product, and workshops and seminars to help dealers and suppliers share thoughts on business acumen and keep up to speed with the most effective business practices of the day. All this while – yes – still serving as a forum for business to be conducted. As Mike Guilot of Mississippi Music, Inc. states: “We place more orders at the Winter NAMM Show than we did in past years.”
Thoughts on what works (and what could be improved upon) at the NAMM Show touch upon a variety of topics and opinions. Read on to see the results of this recent MMR dealer survey exploring retailer purchasing trends over the past decade and expectations for 2014.
In terms of your annual business, how many orders do you expect to place while in Anaheim at the NAMM Show this year?
“I use NAMM to organize annual programs for my stores. We do not commit to any purchases at the show, but work with our vendors on estimates for product categories for the coming year. At the Show is not the best time to make buying decisions... it is comparable to going to a grocery store when you are hungry!”
Music Go Round
“With NAMM Specials offered earlier each year my buying habits are totally different. I also know that many iMSO members comment that they don’t attend but purchase the NAMM specials.”
Owensboro Music Center
“We place more orders at the Winter NAMM Show than we did in past years.”
Mississippi Music Inc.
“Vendors often make specials creating incentive to make commitments at the show.”
Drum Center of Portsmouth
“Back in the dark ages, we would order tonnage and it would get us through six-to-nine months of sales and it was a viable option as margins were rather high. Now with the very thin margins that we are forced to accept, we must turn our inventory over five to six times a year and not stock the items that do not turn.”
Columbia River Music
“We do place a tremendous amount of value on the NAMM Show meetings with our vendor partners."
Peter K. Sides
Robert M. Sides Family Music Center
“More ‘stock’ orders with certain vendors where handled at show [in the past]; now just new products purchased.”
White House of Music
“For me the NAMM show gives our company the opportunity to see new products and have hands-on demos. [We also can] connect with the key people from the wholesale side. My orders, either with new companies or our current business partners, are then placed usually throughout the first quarter.”
Saied Music Company
“The nature of our business, which is pianos and organs, requires that we purchase at the Show because some of the new models will not be available for three to six months, or even until fall. Therefore, in order to be in planning, we order based on rolling out those products as efficiently as possible.”
How have your purchasing trends changed (if at all) in the past decade?
“At the Show is not the best time to make buying decisions... it is comparable to
going to a grocery store when you are hungry!” – Tim Kletti, Music Go Round
“I like to see, feel and touch the new models. The crowds are crazy, though! It is hard to believe that, with around 7,000 music dealers in the U.S. (I think that number is about right) we are all sending 10 people each (attendance is regularly said to be 70,000-plus).”
“NAMM should, and has, become an information center rather than a buying event.”
Buddy Roger’s Music
“I simply do not have the credit line open to me that I had in years past (when I was more profitable). Thus I’m buying small amounts on more frequent basis, which is probably better anyway.”
Bill Jones Music
“We need an East Coast show. Nashville is just irrelevant. Anaheim is full of the same people and way too many guests. An East Coast show would draw dealers who just don’t or can’t go to Anaheim. I personally love the Anaheim show, but an East Coast show would bring new customers to the show and new interest.”
“While January is a great time of year to spend one week away from my business, it is not necessarily the best time of year to place significant orders. Our two busiest months of the year are September and December, so placing orders outside the scope of our normal purchasing process doesn’t make sense. We do, however, place a tremendous amount of value on the NAMM Show meetings with our vendor partners. We do our best to ensure that our meetings are productive in setting the stage for the business we will do together in the coming year regardless of the need or lack of need for an immediate order.”
Peter K. Sides
Robert M. Sides Family Music Center