“It’s extremely important for us to assist the customer in qualifying their wants and needs, so they can travel with a better-performing product and a higher level of satisfaction,” emphasizes Eden Goldberg, vice president of marketing and business development. “For example, when somebody comes into the store looking for a pair of headphones, we help them decipher their needs: will they use them for a quiet plane ride, for fitness at their destination or to meet a particular lifestyle? We walk through the assortment and encourage live demonstrations so the customer can make the best choice for him or herself.”
That is where the sales training of its associates becomes crucial to customer satisfaction. “We have a very strong commitment to training,” President and CEO Jeremy Smith emphasizes. “We’re always trying to improve our training methods. We have an internal training department based in our Jacksonville, Fla., headquarters, an online comprehensive portal and we also rely on our business partners, our vendors, who oftentimes go out into the field to help train our salespeople on new products.”
Proper qualification and training can reduce the rate of returns, which for the consumer electronics industry is notoriously high.
“Our return rate is quite low because we help each customer with their purchase, but we do have a 30-day return policy with the receipt,” Goldberg points out. “We’re quite flexible.”
InMotion Entertainment Group’s 125 stores at airports throughout the United States range in size from 120 square feet to more than 1,200 square feet depending on their locations in an airport. Many airports have multiple InMotion stores in various terminals. Airports in Atlanta and San Francisco have up to 17 locations each, all of which have high visibility.
“If we have eight locations in an airport, one location maybe is pre-security to capture the high international traffic in that terminal,” Goldberg says. “Then we will have seven locations that are post-security that cater specifically to customers departing in those terminals. People spend more time in the airports than ever before, and the airport experience has greatly improved to cater to a more discerning traveler.”
Traffic and density are considered when deciding how many stores to open in an airport. “In some of the terminals in the Atlanta airport, we might have three and four stores,” Smith declares. “But it’s justified based on the amount of traffic that’s moving through that terminal. We might have a few pre-security stores, but our preference is post-security.”
The typical InMotion Entertainment customer varies seasonally. “Anybody who’s traveling is a customer of ours,” Goldberg points out. “Business travelers are our core audience throughout the year, with peaks of leisure travelers during vacations, summer and traditional holidays. Then, of course, we also cater to the airport and airline community – pilots, attendants and airport personnel.”
InMotion Entertainment strives to appeal to a mass audience while still retaining a high-end atmosphere. “We are located specifically to target the mass audience, yet we’re a boutique chain,” Goldberg emphasizes. “That gives us the opportunity to have very high customer service with a very curated selection, but have an incredible reach to target all of the traveling consumers.”
Every traveling consumer has a mobile device such as a smart phone or tablet or laptop computer, and InMotion Entertainment sells accessories to make travel with their device more entertaining and efficient. Among the top sellers are portable battery packs, adapters, smart phone covers, charging cables or charging cords, pillows for listening to mobile devices and even action cameras and accessories for leisure travelers who want to record their daredevil vacation exploits. InMotion Entertainment even carries new hot trends like drones and hoverboards.
“Certainly headphones are our biggest category,” Goldberg declares. In this category, qualifying the customer is especially important because of its variety. “Even within the headphone category, we carry ones for casual listening, for kids, fitness or wireless earbuds, for more fashion-oriented headphones, and, of course, we cater to the more premium requests of noise-canceling or noise-isolating headphones,” she says.
Branding and price are important in consumer electronics sales. “We only carry strong, reputable brands,” Goldberg stresses. InMotion Entertainment sells legacy brands known for their quality and being fashion-forward. New products are tested rigorously to see if they meet InMotion’s standards.
“We‘ve had longstanding partnerships with our vendor/partners and been first-to-market with many of their highly popular products,” she continues. “It’s our relationship with each of these partners that has certainly been a huge attribute to the way we do business. We care very much for our partners, and our partners care for us. Together, we bring the traveling consumer the brands that they have come to know and recognize, as well as helping those consumers choose their products. We can be proud of any product that we sell.”
Pricing is usually the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. “We do have promotions, and we certainly are competitive in the market on pricing,” Goldberg stresses. Smith adds that airports regulate their stores to ensure that prices are within the range of street prices and to eliminate artificially high prices.
InMotion Entertainment Group’s distribution center is next to its headquarters in Jacksonville, Fla., and has recently been expanded. “We primarily work directly with each of our partners,” Goldberg says. “We receive all products at our distribution center, and then our distribution team allots the products accordingly.”
Because of the expense and limited availability of storage space in airports, many of the company’s stores have limited or no back room space for inventory. “We rely on continual shipments to support our high stock turns,” Goldberg says.
The size of a store’s back room determines the frequency of its shipments. “If a store barely has any storage space, then obviously that store – depending on their sales – will get shipped more frequently than other stores that have more of an abundance of storage space,” Smith points out. Merchandise is transported through third-party shippers.
Goldberg attributes InMotion Entertainment Group’s increasing sales to a combination of organic growth and the recent acquisition of APW Holdings LLC. “We’ve had organic growth in which we’ve won bidding in primary and secondary markets and been able to grow based on our strong reputation in the airport industry,” she asserts. “We’ve had incredible growth with cutting-edge products that are exclusive to us in the airport market.”
The constant evolution of consumer electronics requires that new products be introduced into inventories frequently. “Our inventory is always fresh, and we do try to carry the latest and greatest products,” Smith adds. “Due to our strong relationship with our business partners, we’re usually the first in line to receive the new products.”
Last May, InMotion Entertainment Group acquired 34 retail locations from APW Holdings that operated under the names of Airport Wireless, techshowcase, Tech Interaction, tech in a sec and Touch Table. Several synergies have come about from the acquisition.
“We were able to combine what I call the best practices of both companies,” Smith says. “They had been in the airport electronics business about the same length of time that we have been. So we were able to take on some good people. Obviously, you’re able to combine both corporate offices into one, and that’s really your main synergy and cost savings.” Previously in early 2014, InMotion Entertainment acquired eight airport stores from I-TECH.
The acquired locations are being converted to the InMotion Entertainment brand. “It is a work in progress,” Smith says. “We’ve converted some of them and are in the process of converting the others. Usually, when you go through a conversion and you’re changing out the storefront sign, you have to get airport approval. Sometimes that process takes a little while. You can’t just come in one day and change a sign out – you have to get the permission of the airport.”
Airports control the locations of stores and food and beverage outlets. “It’s not necessarily like retail on the street, where you see a vacant store and you just go in and rent it,” Smith emphasizes. “The airports control the use of those. So that also determines, and is a function of, what spaces become available and whether they’re proper for you.”
How extensive the remodeling of an acquired store is depends on the remaining term of the lease. “If a store has a very short term remaining, it doesn’t make sense to spend a whole lot of money,” Smith says. “With a longer-term lease, we can go in and change some things out. We try to give it the look and feel of an InMotion store, even though we may not be able to do a total remodel.”
Existing locations of InMotion Entertainment are always being renovated. “We are always working on new store openings and remodels of existing locations,” Goldberg says. “Then certainly, we do touchups and some refreshing of our stores.”
InMotion Entertainment targets travelers with its marketing efforts in airline terminals and magazines as well as travel publications and social media. “Social media is becoming more and more important,” Goldberg points out. “People are eager to share their travel information online and in their social environment.”
Smith attributes the success of InMotion Entertainment to “a great team and people. Because of our size and our reputation, we also enjoy very strong strategic relationships with our vendors, who are all well-known brand names.”
For the future, InMotion Entertainment plans to grow and diversify. “Being the largest electronics airport retailer, we’ve come a long way,” Smith says. “We’ve identified a number of additional markets to grow in, and we’re continuing to look not only for new markets but new coveted products to help our discerning travelers.”