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BrandSource Debuts Mobile App, Expanded ‘Warehouse II’ Operation


BrandSource introduced its own mobile
app and Expert Warehouse II distribution operation
that, together, could transform many of its retailers
into “catalog showrooms” presenting more products,
categories and services than ever before.

The introductions were made at the buying group’s
national convention at Caesar’s Palace, here, last
week which group executives said, when teamed together,
could transform how BrandSource retailers
can go to market.

The BrandSource mobile app is now available
through the app store of iTunes. The app is free; compatible
with the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and iPad
2; and requires a minimum iPhone OS of 4.1 or later.
Wi-Fi, Edge or 3G network connection is sometimes

Initially available for major appliances, CE products
will be available imminently, according to Bob
Lawrence, CEO of BrandSource. And it will soon be
available on other mobile operating systems as well,
he said.

Lawrence said the group now owns 160 words in
the apps store of iTunes that apply to major appliances
that “bring up our app.”

The app “will open up as ‘BrandSource’ ” once a
keyword is hit “but the retailers will have the ability to
customize it to their store,” Lawrence said. The app
enables consumers to find the nearest BrandSource
available and lets consumers share info on a new product
via email, Twitter and Facebook.

Lawrence said this app does not even the playing
field since “there is no other home appliance app in
the industry today. From a tech standpoint, it puts us
one step ahead of everyone else out there.”

He described the app as a tool for consumers, but
also for member retailers, because “the salesperson
never has to leave the customer’s side. The app can
bring up specs, dimensions, users’ guides, colors of
products and availability.” There are buying guides for
consumers, as well as 40-second videos on product
categories on the app, Lawrence added.

The app enables consumers — and salespeople
at BrandSource member stores — to research more
than 7,000 appliances and electronics from an Apple

On the dealer’s site they can print out price tags,
check manufacturers’ sites to see if products are available
from them or Expert Warehouse II, and show
competitive prices vs. big-box stores by ZIP code, and
products can be shipped directly to consumers or to
the store.

Jim Ristow, executive VP of CE, said that that this
app will “really help legitimize the independent channel
inside the stores, make them look and feel even more
professional than the big boxes.”

Expert Warehouse II will enable BrandSource members to enter new categories such
as small housewares, Apple-related
and other tech accessories, tablets and
PCs, and networking hardware for custom

Expert Warehouse II is owned by
BrandSource. Its partner is Ingram Micro,
which signed on a month and a
half ago when its partner for the original
Expert Warehouse, Archbrook Laguna,
filed for Chapter 11 protection.

Ingram carries 8,000 SKUs worldwide,
Ristow noted, and will enable
BrandSource members who sign up for Expert Warehouse
II “to carry categories
they don’t sell today, like tablet

So far the new distribution effort is a
hit with 25 percent more members signing
up for it than an average month under
the original program, Ristow said.

In terms of how Expert Warehouse
II is critical to the success of the new
BrandSource mobile app, Ristow said,
“Our largest members are pushing us to
get to as close to zero inventory levels
as possible with everything happening
in CE. The box stores are going that
way. That’s why the app we have is so
exciting — it completes that transaction.
Our members can now literally become
a catalog showroom with ‘virtually’ anything
we can show with the app being
up for sale,” Ristow said.

“This is the tip of the iceberg,” he predicted.
“We can talk about and show
products, and install things, that we
could never have done before” with the
new app and expanded Expert Warehouse
II, Ristow said.

In other BrandSource news, the group
rolled out Shelf Source, enabling members
to enter the kitchen cabinet retrofit
market, which provides 40 percent to 50
percent margins, Lawrence said.

And Kathy Ireland was on hand, this
time debuting a licensed home-furnishings
line that includes Kathy Irelandbranded
sets of knives and kitchen storage
products, with CE and housewares
coming soon. The first Kathy Ireland
BrandSource commercials were being
shot at the show with members, and
Lawrence quipped, “I wouldn’t be surprised
if they were out next week.”