By Janet Weyandt
The day is coming when BrandSource members will wonder how they ever got along without LINQ. The comprehensive web-based program unveiled last August gives members the ability to manage online pricing and promotions for all the SKUs in their warehouse with the click of a mouse.
To make sure members are getting the full benefit of the program as it continues to evolve, the LINQ team has rolled out a series of training workshops, beginning at Summit and continuing through all the BrandSource region meetings this year.
Laura Dake, senior project manager of LINQ, said the more people learn about how LINQ works and what it can do for them, the more they want to use it.
“People are very excited to use it,” she said. “I answer questions every day. I have new people coming on board to try it out every day. People are excited to take more control of their products and merchandise their websites in a way they’ve never been able to before.”
There are four overall areas where LINQ offers tremendous assistance to dealers as they manage their inventory.
Pricing: With LINQ, users can “set it and forget it,” creating pricing rules that will govern how price changes will show up on their websites. The bottom line, Dake said, is that the days of changing prices individually every day or with every new promotion are over.
Product flags: These little flag icons, which show up on products on the dealer’s website, have proven to be extremely effective in guiding customers to special items, promotions or deals. Flags can be set individually or with a rule and graphically highlight special things you want your customers to see. For instance, if something is on clearance or comes with free delivery, or if you’re offering 10 percent off all Samsung dishwashers, a flag will make it clear.
Special catalogs: Catalogs are how you can group products together online so they’re easier for customers to find and navigate. Clearance catalogs are common, for example, but products can be grouped any way you like: featured, in stock, scratch-and-dent, etc. Special catalogs can show up in a variety of places on the site using LINQ.
Add-on products: This sets up additional products to show up on a page. For instance, when a customer is looking at refrigerators, the add-on tool can make sure they’re seeing the rest of the kitchen suite as well. Extended warranties can be highlighted this way, as can delivery, additional parts, or just about anything else.
In addition to those fundamental tools, LINQ offers many other functions, and more are being added all the time.
“As every revision comes out, we have more and more options, more things you can do in LINQ,” Dake said. “I get suggestions every day.”
There is a tutorial video on each individual page on LINQ, and an overall tutorial showing all the functions on the home page. Users who have additional questions are encouraged to attend their region meetings for more training or call Dake’s team for help.
Pamela Stewart-Wells, of Stewart’s TV & Appliance in Aleria, Ohio, has become her store’s expert on LINQ. She attended the LINQ workshops at Summit and has been familiarizing herself with its functions as she needs them.
She has successfully created a clearance catalog and has also been using pricing tools, which have been a huge help.
“LINQ has helped,” Wells said. “I was so proud when I got all those clearance items on there. We have all this stuff on the floor that doesn’t have a SPIF … but there’s somebody out there maybe looking for it. Maybe it fills somebody’s needs.”
Dake said the question she is asked most often is how a user can match competitor prices. That’s an easy one: LINQ runs a price scrape every night, and then runs rules – the rules you set up to show prices how you want them – so prices are always consistent on members’ websites.
“This is really great initiative because no matter where the big box stores are pricing, you can price better,” Dake said. “We’re always modifying our code to make sure whatever roadblocks they set out we can go around them or underneath them.”
Another common question is how to round prices online to .99 or .95, an issue raised when manufacturer promotions result in prices that don’t end that way. LINQ can do it.
Dake said anyone who hasn’t already tried LINQ can simply contact their account manager at AVB Marketing to sign in. It takes a little getting used to, but the functions are intuitive, and it doesn’t take long before LINQ is an essential part of daily business.
“It’s very easy to use once you jump in,” Dake said. “But once you get in it’s easy to use, very straightforward. It’s the best way you can manage your business online. We’re constantly adding more features, putting more features into LINQ to make it easier. You can do it all in LINQ.”
YSN is published by BrandSource parent company AVB Inc.