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jamesV

Klipsch At Crutchfield

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Great Move on Klipsch's part. They have excellent salespeople, great customer support and fast reliable shipping...........truly a Win Win situation for All.

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Crutchfield has exceptional customer service. It seems like a good pairing and hopefully both parties will benefit.

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I think that Klipsch's decision to ally with Crutchfield is a very good long term strategy. I have been active in the car audio realm for some time and have watched with interest the way the internet has impacted that industry. Crutchfield has a long-standing and excellent reputation in that context, and has been visionary -and I don't use that term lightly- in the way it has capitalized on changes in the market that have been driven primarily by the emergence of the internet. What has essentially happened over time is that the information available by way of the internet has laid bare the price structure of many industries, and the average guy knows pretty close, if not exactly, the wholesale or distributors price for goods they purchase.

So once this price data is known, those for whom price is the primary or only consideration are free to seek that lowest price in a market where caveat emptor is the watchword. Many will put their money at risk with entities of which they know nothing, and many will lose their money outright. Others will purchase goods at a low price from unauthorized dealers, only to find that when something goes wrong that there is no warranty. I'm always amazed to read on various forums where people knowingly take these risks, suffer the loss, but then voice their dilemma on public forums, often trying to imply that the manufacturer is somehow at fault for their own gullibilty.

Those who choose not to be slave to price only, will seek either continued relationship with traditional brick-and-mortar outlets, or will seek to do business with more reputable internet retailers that build accomodation for customer service and warranty fulfillment into their price structure. Crutchfield has positioned itself -through consistent and principled execution of their business plan- as the standard-bearers of customer service and warranty fulfillment in the market.

Another interrelated factor at play in today's market that has paralleled the development of the internet, is the evolution of a very advanced logistic infrastructure in the United States. Effectively, this infrastructure allows overnight delivery anywhere in the USA. In the same way that information availability has exposed price structure, the logistics changes have virtually eliminated geographical restrictions and boundaries for most businesses. A business now has a reach far beyond a physical demographic area. Further, where product advertising used to focus on seeking a target market, now the target market seeks the product advertising. Due to the power of the search engines used daily within the information infrastructure of the internet, successful businesses today must by design be at the vortex of information search.

Crutchfield has methodically and consistently executed a business plan that has leveraged these various emerging factors. One of the most significant things about the Crutchfield approach, from a manufacturer's perspective, is that a manufacturer's decision to use Crutchfield exclusively for internet sales does not deteriorate their established brick-and-mortar distribution base, and indeed may even facilitate it.

It is a well-known fact to the educated consumer that Crutchfield sells at or near retail price for the products they handle, and only deviate from this in the case of discontinued product. The Crutchfield customer recognizes this, and even is willing to conscientiously trade off price advantage because Crutchfield executes other aspects of the total purchase and ownership experience so well. First is customer service that is exhibited in the form of a 30-day money-back guarantee and friendly service during order placement and servicing. Second is the product knowledge which is increasingly important as product becomes more technical in nature. Crutchfield spends the time and resources necessary to properly develop this knowledge base and make it available to the customer, in either written or face-to-face form. Third is the availability of product 24x7. While the brick-and-mortar outlet has to buy product and stock according to forecasts that may or may not be right, a more centralized stock on a much larger scale for a broader geograpical area is easier to manage from a just-in-time availability standpoint, and in some cases can even be done in direct coordination with the manufacturer.

These advantages though come at a cost, but Crutchfield has recognized their inherent long-term value, and wisely built that into their cost structure. The brick-and-mortar outlet has the ability to offer some or all these same advantages as they choose, but also can reduce price for those customers. Ironically, I have heard some retailers use Crutchfield prices as a reference point for a discounted price. So internet sales, at a retail price point, do not necessarily undermine the local brick-and-mortar dealer's ability to sell. At the same time, the internet sales through Crutchfield allow the manufacturer to have penetration and footprint in areas that would normally be inaccessible to them because the local demographics do not economically support a brick-and-mortar outlet. The consumer is advantaged, because they can now buy product previously unavailable, or if the product is available can choose between the brick-and-mortar outlet or Crutchfield according to which mix of elements in the purchase experience are most relevant to their situation.

By offering internet sales -exclusively- through a single
point-of-control internet retailer that has built a legacy and
reputation of custormer service, knowledge, and integrity like
Crutchfield has, the manufacturer is able to protect price structure
for itself, and for its brick-and-mortar distribution network as well. Klipsch is not alone in their recognition of the intrinsic value of a synergistic relationship like this, and joins other major brands like Polk, Infinity, Alpine, JBL, JLAudio, and even Theil in taking advantage of the value of this strategy.

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We're sorry, but based on the preamble to your doctoral thesis, you are significantly over-qualified to post here. Again, we're sorry, but we'll keep you in mind if a skill-appropriate position becomes available.

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Okay. I'll be the guy happily listening to my Klipsch HT system in the meantime. [H]

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You are now banished to your home theater with only Klipsch and popcorn to think this over. [:P]

James

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We're sorry, but based on the preamble to your doctoral thesis, you are significantly over-qualified to post here. Again, we're sorry, but we'll keep you in mind if a skill-appropriate position becomes available.

Now that's funny !

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Guest srobak

Tweeter in Chicagoland has had them for over a year that I know of...

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I wish Crutchfield offered discounts... they always sell as stated by raider at msrp. I do not quite know how Crutchfield stays in business but I do concur that their customer service is above par.

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Here's how they stay in business...

"It is a well-known fact to the educated consumer that Crutchfield sells at or near retail price for the products they handle, and only deviate from this in the case of discontinued product. The Crutchfield customer recognizes this, and even is willing to conscientiously trade off price advantage because Crutchfield executes other aspects of the total purchase and ownership experience so well. First is customer service that is exhibited in the form of a 30-day money-back guarantee and friendly service during order placement and servicing. Second is the product knowledge which is increasingly important as product becomes more technical in nature. Crutchfield spends the time and resources necessary to properly develop this knowledge base and make it available to the customer, in either written or face-to-face form. Third is the availability of product 24x7. ... The consumer is advantaged, because they can now buy product previously unavailable, or if the product is available can choose between the brick-and-mortar outlet or Crutchfield according to which mix of elements in the purchase experience are most relevant to their situation."

For many people, especially in regard to higher end and/or exclusive products, aspects of the purchase experience that revolve around customer service have a tangible value and are worth more than the discount that most of us desire. For these people, their time is literally money, and time wasted on a bad customer experience is far more expensive to them, and they would much rather spend the same time in a productive activity. It's not worth the time or inconvenience to them to have to deal with problems. So Crutchfield's customer service -both before and after the purchase- is not only valuable to them, but critical to close the deal.

One of the things that Crutchfield has capitalized on the best is that their business model gives all the brands they carry national footprint in the market. The brick-and-mortar distribution model limits the reach of product to major metropolitan areas for the most part, as that is where there is volume sufficient to cover the overhead and make a profit. Areas outside those metropolitan areas have had little or no access to many of these brands otherwise. So the Crutchfield option for those folks is to pay retail, enjoy Crutchfield's exemplary customer service, have the confidence of the 30 day return (try to match that feature alone at most B&M stores or at the big-box outlets), and have excellent support after the sale. So for people where time is money, and for people that have little or no access to the product otherwise without significant risk) the option of paying retail at Crutchfield is well worth it.

The effects of internet and overnight delivery services have effectively minimized margin and collapsed price differentials. In the coming decade, customer service will be the key differentiator between businesses, and a key determinant of success. Businesses that don't understand this are destined to fail. And lip service won't do. Haven't you had a belly full of Fortune 500 companies that win J.D. Power awards, yet you are hard pressed to even talk to a human being without a wait, if at all, to find out about products, or heaven forbid to resolve a problem? Isn't your time worth anything? Customer service will be the key differentiator in business in the coming years.

Crutchfield is not only staying in business, but is in a growth mode, with a business model that capitalizes on these emerging realities. By the way, Tire Rack, Cabelo's, LLBean, and Land's End have similar business models, and have met with success in other industries.

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