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BrandSource Focused On Dealer Solutions

3/30/2010 09:20:02 AM Eastern

Dallas - BrandSource, the $14
billion electronics, appliance and home-furnishings buying group, will continue
to provide solutions to some of the most vexing industry challenges facing its
4,500 members.

 Carter Oosterhouse

Speaking before record crowds at the
group's 2010 Spring Summit here at the Hilton Anatole yesterday, BrandSource
CEO Bob Lawrence cited instant rebates, inventory management and brand
recognition among the biggest obstacles for independent dealers.

Instant rebates, which are hard to
track, costly to administer and a drain on cash flow, are also "the only way to
keep you price competitive without sacrificing margins," Lawrence stressed, and
pointed to the group's new instant-rebate portal, an online tool that went live
in January, as a way to consolidate claims and reduce payment time to 15 days.

The portal will also begin
processing instant rebates from major appliance manufacturers, who began
offering the promotions in February.

On the inventory front, Lawrence
reminded dealers that the group's Expert Warehouse distribution program, which
is rapidly approaching $1 billion in sales, allows members to lower their
overhead and increase their turns by ordering truckloads of mixed merchandise
as needed. BrandSource has also begun adding 900 major appliance SKUs from
Whirlpool, Electrolux and GE to its Expert Warehouse distribution centers
serving the Northeast quadrant of the country, and will expand the rollout to
all states east of the Mississippi by year's end.

The group will also continue to
aggressively market the BrandSource brand name and will press the 50 percent of
dealers that haven't yet adopted the tagline in their signage and advertising
to do so. Plans include extensive advertising on the Scripps' home-oriented TV
networks and a return to dealers of $1 toward local advertising for every $2
they pay in branding fees.

The branding effort is also
expanding online under former communications director Bob Donaldson, who has
been named digital marketing general manager.

In other BrandSource news, CE has
surpassed majaps as the group's No. 1 category in dollar volume due to growth
and partnerships such as the alliance with the Progressive Retailers
Organization (PRO Group), Lawrence told TWICE. CE now represents about 40
percent of total sales, white goods 35 percent, and furniture 10 percent,
followed by flooring and other categories.

BrandSource will next convene in August at the Paris Las
Vegas Hotel, and will hold next year's Spring Summit one month earlier, in
February, at the World Marriott Center in Orlando, Fla.