For over a decade now, Headphonic have been the go-to supplier of top-end headphones and accessories in Perth, suruving despite increasing pressures on brick and mortar retailers in the face of online competition. they recently relocated to larger premises at 83 Wanneroo Road, Tuart Hill, which struck us as a good an excuse as any to have a chat with owner, Marcus Miller.
What’s the Headphonic story? Give us a quick history.
Headphonic began as a side project in 2002 when I was working fulltime in a computer store where I had a focus on good sound cards and speakers. I began by helping people online choose the right pair of headphones but quickly found that a lot of the stuff I’d recommend wasn’t readily available, so I could help with what to buy but not where to buy. The solution was to set up a business and let them buy from me which is how Headphonic was born.
How did you become interested in this particular area of equipment retail?
I’ve always been a lover of music and so have both of my parents. I grew up listening to whatever albums my parents put on, my dad playing guitar, or I was taken along to concerts (I saw bands like AC/DC, The Rolling Stones, Split Enz and many others live before I was seven years old). Headphones actually represent an extremely good value way to get into high quality audio – you can get $10,000 speaker setup sound quality from a $400 pair of headphones so you don’t have to be made of money or have an especially large space to have an awesome headphone setup and you can take it on the road with you.
What are the key challenges that you face as a retailer today?
I think it’s probably better to say what sets us apart as a retailer – I try to maintain a heavy specialist focus because I think customers like a bit of guidance and help in choosing the right product, rather than being waved over to a wall of products and being left on their own. We take pride in knowing the ins and outs of our entire range and knowing what suits who and why. It’s a lot of stuff to keep in your head.
As a customer I know I like to be able to get proper advice from somewhere that I purchase a product from and I think it’s a bit of a rarity. Of course one of the main challenges involves the cost of having a shop front in boomtown Perth where rents are high and population isn’t.
You recently relocated. What prompted that?
Headphonic has been growing steadily over the years. The new location has a bigger showroom, is easier to spot and now has parking!
Have you ever considered moving to a purely online model?
I started off as online only, but there’s a huge advantage to customers to be able to come into a shop and test stuff out before purchasing it, especially if they have a little guidance. I could switch back to an online only model but it would cut out a lot of the extra service we like to offer. Reading a hundred online reviews is no substitute for actually listening yourself.
How do you keep abreast of new developments in your field?
Many ways – press releases, online reviews, customer feedback. We take it all on board. To be honest though, headphones haven’t changed a great deal in 50 years. New models are released constantly but realistically any headphone that sounds great now will sound great in 20 years, unless it breaks. I like to recommend stuff that will last.
Is there anything about your job that you didn’t expect going in?
I didn’t expect Headphonic to be as big as it’s become, and I didn’t expect to still be doing this after 12 years! I didn’t see the iPod revolution coming either. I’ve always had a walkman/discman/portable player of some kind but it really took off not long after Headphonic started up.
Anything else you want to add?
Headphonic wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for our awesome customers and awesome staff. I’d like to say thanks to everyone that has supported us over the years. Come on down and check out our new shop, test out some gear and have a chat with us!
Check out Headphonic’s range at headphones.com.au.