While OE-Fit or factory look a-like car radios are spiking in sales at car dealers, retailers have been slow to embrace the new products.
The radios are harder to stock and display, as you need a different customized radio for each major car model.
Also, few of the top head unit brands offer factory look-a-like radios, and retailers are reluctant to sign on with a new brands and sacrifice volume discounts with their current suppliers, they said.
Factory look-a-like (or OE upgrade) radios are designed to work seamlessly in a given car model and to look just like the original radio. They typically include upgrade features like navigation, Bluetooth and a backup camera option.
Audiovox said it’s working to entice car audio retailers into the category with a new program to launch in a few months.
It will publish a glossy display book that shows each of the leading cars and the options you can buy for it, including an OE upgrade radio and rear seat entertainment. “The customer with a brand new GM, who is not thrilled with an aftermarket radio,” can shop for what he likes and get same day or next day shipping, said Audiovox Electronics president Tom Malone.
“Our OE Fit radio sales should double over last year. But it’s still a modest category,” said Malone, admitting “retail is a challenge.”
At the same time, there is a growing base of customers who want a radio that perfectly matches their car interior.
Another advantage of OE replacement radios are they can’t be “shopped online” as they are not common at online discounters. They carry high price tags, often at $1,500 and they support high dealer margins. They also offer longer warranties than typical aftermarket products.