Retail Observer

May 2019

The Retail Observer is an industry leading magazine for INDEPENDENT RETAILERS in Major Appliances, Consumer Electronics and Home Furnishings

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MAY 2019 RETAILOBSERVER.COM 55 A fter helping its appliance dealers knock it out of the park with a reimagined web platform, BrandSource is racing home with a web initiative aimed specifically at its ever-growing furniture dealer members. Spearheaded by the Associated Volume Buyers (AVB)/Brand- Source, the goal is to offer the most powerful, effective web platform available to independent furniture retailers. Thanks to the AVB Marketing team's expertise, the group has created a website solution that puts independent home furnishings retailers on a fast track to digital dominance. A key component of the furniture dealer web platform is ALTA, a customizable application that offers the members the full functionality of LINQ and BrandSource's partnership with Google with just a few mouse clicks. In addition, it allows the user to customize a website to suit their particular needs, instead of enforcing a cookie-cutter approach. BrandSource members can now benefit from a mobile-optimized platform that features responsive design, lead generation, managed pricing, real-time reporting, and custom content to create an unbeatable online presence. ALTA also offers a seamless journey for consumers who can opt to buy their furniture online or in-store. LINQ is a web-based pricing and product management tool designed by the members. LINQ lets retailers easily set pricing rules, control product views, facilitate price forecasting, and enjoy full integration with a Price Tag Management System. The result for the BrandSource furniture dealers is a state-of-the-art e-commerce solution that can accommodate dealers who merely want to show products, or set up a store to aggressively sell furniture online. Thanks to LINQ integration, members can feature their high-margin items and best sellers, while creating clearance centers to move older items. The platform allows dealers to quickly and easily integrate their POS systems and track their inventory in real time. LINQ also lets members create a "digital price tag" and easily manage pricing through the website as well as in the store. The AVB marketing team is quick to point out that the system is being continually enhanced, with new features and upgrades launched roughly every 60 days. The platform has also gotten high marks from members for the ability to marry state-of-the-art-technology with first-rate design. A quick trip through the platform makes it clear that it is not a promotionally driven site but that it tells the each member's unique story with a clean and elegant, customer-friendly design. Keeping the end user in mind, the site is not only simple to navigate but was created with the mobile generation in mind, since more than half of today's consumers use their mobile devices to shop online. ALTA lets members tell their unique story with images, writing, and creative design that work together to show the consumer why they should buy. The platform enables dealers to advertise locally and also participate in national and/or AVB-exclusive promotions, allowing local dealers to remain competitive in their markets. Perhaps the greatest advantage of the platform is its ability to help the dealer be where the customers are – online. Dealers who want to actively sell online or just drive traffic into the store can have a website that will do both. One of the growing number of members who've used the platform is Robert Van Hoose Jr., chairman of Big Sandy Superstore, a 20-store furniture, bedding and appliance chain with outlets in Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia. While Van Hoose loves the results he's gotten so far, he believes even better things are on the horizon. Van Hoose says, "The team at BrandSource who are working on this platform stand out because they have the best interests of the dealer at heart. While there are lots of people who know the digital landscape, there are not many who understand home furnishings. This team does." He was particularly impressed by the team's attention to detail. "And that's great, because the potential for business online is huge. We've already targeted our website as a 'standalone store,' and it's one of our fastest-growing stores. In my mind, the investments we make in our website will ultimately give us a much better return than what we spend on our real estate. Without a doubt, omni-channel retail is the future." One of the tools Van Hoose is currently using is interactive PERQ software that he feels keeps customers on his website longer and enables him to convert website traffic to in-store visits. He is currently working on a chat/text feature that will let him direct the website consumers to a qualified salesperson at the best store location. A visit to Big Sandy's site,, confirms its prowess in the digital arena. Consumers can easily shop online for furniture, electronics, bedding and appliances, apply for credit, check and track delivery status and take a virtual 3-D visit of the store. Van Hoose says, "We are still in the building process, but with this initiative from BrandSource, we are convinced the best is yet to come." RO E. Michael Allen – VP Home Furnishings AVB/BrandSource

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