The internet has changed the way we work, live and play. Subsequently, it has changed the way we research and purchase pro audio products. While using the internet for selling is not new for MI retailers, this is still quite a novel concept for pro audio gear. Installers no longer have to visit a local dealer to obtain more product information or check if an item is in stock. Northern Sound & Light (NSL), in the Pittsburgh suburb of McKees Rocks, PA, is a pro audio and lighting dealer who has successfully used the internet to provide a research tool and purchasing source to customers from around the country.
"Our website is designed so that customers can find product information from multiple manufacturers quickly and easily," said Steve Raslevich, founder and president of NSL. "Customers can research product at northernsound.net but can't buy anything on it without calling and talking to a salesperson. We don't offer a shopping cart feature online. Unlike other websites where you can make a purchase without ever talking to a human being, NSL believes that contact with a professional can make all the difference, especially with the higher-end professional gear."
Raslevich strongly believes that in such a competitive buyer's market, NSL must use all the tools necessary to drive sales and reduce overhead. NSL offers its full product catalog online, and the company's 6,800-square-foot facility inventories the most popular items on the website for faster shipping. "The average customer will shop first on price, quality and then on intangibles like customer service and support," Raslevich observed. "We strive to give our customers all four."
Using an integrated media buying approach, NSL's brand has become widely recognized both online and offline. With 50,000 page views per week, NSL services customers ranging from corporations, churches, theaters, national artists on tour, rental/production companies and professional installation contractors. "Purchasing from a non-local company, regardless of if they are online or not, may not be for everybody," Raslevich concluded. "A customer really has to weigh what is more important to them--price or nearby service and support only their local dealer can offer. Our service outside of our area can only be as fast as the shipping service available to us."