Brand Source Launching Mobile Program

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– Brand Source, the $14 billion homegoods buying group, is launching a turnkey wireless program to help members more readily enter the burgeoning mobile CE category, and may also offer a similar entree into solar energy.

The programs, announced at group’s convention and buy fair here last month at the Paris and Bally’s hotels, are intended to help dealers diversify their product offerings and boost business amid the harsh retail sales environment.

Brand Source CEO Bob Lawrence told TWICE that it is important for members to offer a broader assortment that can be culled from the group’s current pool of CE, appliance, furniture, floor covering and bedding products, and coming options including energy management and mobile devices.

The latter program, dubbed Connected Source, is a turnkey solution that will provide members easy entry into wireless devices, mobile broadband plans and content services, explained Jim Ristow, executive VP of Home Entertainment Source (HES), the group’s specialty electronics division.

Brand Source will begin testing the concept in select stores during the fourth quarter, and hopes to eventually establish a national footprint, Ristow noted. He said the program is not unlike Best Buy’s plan for the center of its stores, where entertainment software is being replaced by connected hardware and services.

In the meantime, Ristow is arming the group’s CE dealers with an array of deeply discounted products, non-traditional bundles and unique giveaways in order to do promotional battle during the coming holiday season. The deals, which he described as unprecedented, were obtained as a result of overbuilt vendor inventories and Brand Source’s ability to warehouse large quantities of merchandise.

“There are opportunistic buys out there that I’ve never seen in my career,” he told TWICE, citing at least six or seven “Stampede” specials at the convention that were more than 30 percent off.

“We’re ahead of the curve this year, and we’ve kept members in every category,” he said.

Meanwhile, as Brand Source prepares to beta test Connected Source, executive VP for appliances John White has been tasked with developing a similar turnkey solution for solar energy, which the group sees as a major opportunity for dealers.

White is also urging members to manage their appliance assortments in order to remain competitive amid rampant discounting by Sears and the homeimprovement chains, and to continue attaching products and up-selling customers to maintain a healthy bottom line.

In addition, independent dealers should remind their communities why it is important to support neighborhood businesses in terms of service and the local economy, he said.

More immediately, members should also benefit from a newly re-edited TV spot for Electrolux in which TV personality Kelly Ripa refers viewers to select local Brand Source dealers to see the company’s Perfect steam laundry pair and partake in a 10-percentoff promotion. The commercial airs nationwide this month across all Scripps Networks TV shows and was re-shot exclusively for Brand Source.


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