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BrandSource/AVB Circles The Wagons At Summer Show

AVB/BrandSource, the $12 billion buying group for independent tech, appliance and home-furnishings dealers, got down to business yesterday amid the distractions of Las Vegas as thousands of members, vendors and suppliers gathered at Caesars Palace for the organization’s latesummerconvention.

The message was clear, as delivered by Andy Kersey, chairman of the BrandSource board and principal of Hamlin & Kersey Home Center & A/V Systems: “It’s an exciting time to be an independent retailer,” he told attendees, while conceding that “I do wake up with a little anxiety over the challenges before us.”

To help address those competitive challenges head on, BrandSource chief marketing officer John White urged members to adopt a new set of go-to-market strategies, and provided an expanded digital toolbox to deploy them. Fully recovered from an off-road accident that sidelined him during thegroupsMarchshow, White said dealers need to step up their marketing game in order to garner the limited attention and, hopefully, footprints, of a distracted and better educated consumer.

His advice: Establish a line of communication with shoppers before trying to sell them. Offer “a token of value,” whether it’s a humorous video or a giveaway item; leverage all social media platforms that resonate with your target audience; and “be unique, be genuine, be obsessed with engaging the customer,” he said, to stand out from the crowd.

To assist members in their digital forays, BrandSource is providing a host of marketing tools, including:

*reputation management software to help mitigate negative reviews;

*website user content (“Content is king,” White said. “It’s the breadcrumbs that lead customers to your store.”);

*AVBTV 2.0, a next-generation video hub that provides product demos, how-tos and celebrity chef cooking sessions, and now features an easier-to-navigate interface and faster set-up;

*AVB LINQ, a “one-stop shop” to track promotions, pricing and models;

*Web 4.0, a forthcoming upgrade to the group’s dealer web design platform that’s faster, cleaner and provides a “national account web experience,” White noted; and

*Encompass, a standardized series of turnkey marketing packages from which dealers can pick and choose that are designed to help drive traffic to stores.

White added that the group’s thoughts and prayers are with members and residents of coastal Texas, to whom senior staff has reached out to offer “help in any way we can.”

The presentation was followed by BrandSource’s traditional Stampede buying session, when special limited-quantity show deals are offered.

The convention continues today with a raft of seminars, a general session gathering, and the opening of the buy fair exhibition floor. The show runs through Wednesday.

Full coverage of the event will appear in the Sept. 6 issue of TWICE.