Retail Observer

June 2020

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

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Page 56 of 67

JUNE 2020 RETAILOBSERVER.COM 57 B y pulling together, sharing our best practices and leaning into the challenging new business environment, these independent appliance, electronics and home furnishings dealers are learning to navigate uncharted waters. Confirming their adaptability is a new survey of BrandSource members conducted by parent organization AVB. The survey also provides a snapshot of the small business landscape today. According to the poll, the vast majority of member showrooms remain open, at least to some extent. Most are supplementing in-store sales with transactional websites, and some 85 percent are providing either curbside delivery or full in-home installation and repair services. Conducted in mid-April, the nationwide survey also showed that a sizeable number of dealers are experiencing sales increases – although perhaps the most important finding is that nearly all BrandSource members are taking precautions to protect against the spread of COVID-19. How are BrandSource dealers generating business? Fully 65 percent of respondents are keeping their showrooms completely open and their store hours unchanged. Another 12 percent are opening their doors by appointment only, and 11 percent are operating with reduced hours, limited days and/or restricted product categories. About 13 percent of showrooms are closed altogether, members said. Fortunately, while 95 percent of members maintain websites, more than two thirds (69 percent) of the sites are transactional, and the vast majority employ all of the tools in the AVB Marketing Toolkit to maximize traffic and sales. Specifically, 63 percent of member e-commerce sites use banners to indicate the companies' current service levels; 54 percent have enabled live chat; 48 percent list their assortments by popularity, with best- selling items up top; 32 percent flag products that are in stock and/or available for next-day delivery; and 29 percent post their delivery, installation and/or haul-away charges. Members are using a variety of other media in addition to websites to communicate remotely with their customers. Phone calls are the most popular non-physical means, employed by 98 percent of respondents, followed by Facebook at over 70 percent. Close to 60 percent are using Google My Business to keep customers apprised of any operational updates, while FaceTime live videoconferencing was cited by a third of BrandSource members (32.5 percent). Thirteen percent said they are using Skype, and 36 percent reported a combination of conference calls and/or videoconferencing. But when it comes to serving customers in person, members are taking no chances – they've clearly adapted to the "new normal." Specifically, 97 percent of respondents regularly sanitize high-touch surfaces in the showroom, 95 percent are keeping a safe social distance from guests, and two thirds (66 percent) are limiting the number of customers permitted in the store at one time. Members are also following good PPE (personal protective equipment) practices whenever they can, with 48 percent mandating face masks and 44 percent insisting on gloves for showroom personnel. Unfortunately, more than 56 percent of members described finding hand sanitizer as "extremely difficult," while 43 percent reported similar difficulties locating face masks. Bleach, however, appears to be the go-to disinfectant for dealers, with nearly 42 percent describing it as relatively easy to secure.

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