AVB Marketing Guides Members Through a Rapidly Changing Landscape

By Andy Kriege, YSN

AVB Marketing (AVBM) has noted some drastic changes in consumer buying habits over the course of the past few weeks.

As the current crisis continues to unfold, AVBM is harnessing its resources and helping transition its members into this new world of social distancing we are currently living in.

With distancing becoming the new norm, AVB’s marketing team has begun to see some very specific shopping trends as increasingly homebound customers shop in a very decidedly different way.

The typical shopper was already trending toward at least a partial virtual shopping experience, and the pandemic has dragged them there seemingly overnight.  

To that end, it should come as no surprise that online activity across all retail has skyrocketed. Independent retail is no different, and AVBM is seeing a head-spinning pivot toward this deeper digital experience on all BrandSource websites across all markets.

Taking a deeper dive into the data, AVBM found numbers that underscore this shift. When comparing month-over-month figures from the 2020 President’s Day sales period (Feb. 13- 27) to just one month later (March 12-26, after the early spread of COVID-19), it reported the following spikes online:

  • Web traffic was up over 30 percent;
  • Web conversions were up over 40 percent;
  • Calls from digital ads were up 19 percent;
  • Online orders from digital ads were up 81 percent;
  • Chats from ads were up 140 percent;
  • Baskets (number of items in checkout carts) were up 34 percent;
  • And there was a whopping 393 percent overall increase in online orders.

It is clear customer habits are changing fast. AVBM has helped members capture this shift through a host of tools and wants to make sure that every BrandSource dealer has a strong online presence. This includes having a transactional website with chat features and keeping their customers apprised of the status of their business, including hours of operation and delivery and cleanliness protocols.

“Now is the time to eliminate wants-based messaging and move to a needs-based purchase strategy,” said Eric Hunter, Director of eCommerce for AVBM.What is most important to communicate immediately is whether and when you are open, which items you have in-stock, and how soon you can deliver them. Your customers aren’t currently shopping for new products out of desire, they are doing so out of need. Make it easy for them to do so.”

For members who’ve leveraged the group’s live chat, payment gateway, online merchandising, customer communications, and other digital assets, the effort has paid off as reflected in the website analytics. For those without transactional websites, AVBM can now implement full e-commerce functionality in just seven days, compared to the industry’s typical turnaround time of one month or more. The cost to members starts at $499 per month, which includes access to hundreds of brands, managed product pricing, live chat, and in-stock management and POS integration.

“Simply being ‘online’ is table stakes,” added Hunter. “Taking the time today to enhance your online experience will only set you up for future success.”

“We have been laser-focused on keeping dealers afloat digitally, and transactional websites with chat are a necessity,” said Jim Ristow, CEO of AVBM parent AVB Inc. “There are many dealers looking for guidance that need our organization’s help right now. Many retailers are closing their stores or limiting their hours but can still make curbside deliveries. Others are closed completely but are looking to reinvigorate their digital strategy, so they are ready to access the virtual shopper when the market stabilizes. This is the dealer we are trying to help.”

Again, customers have been pivoting to the digital realm for some time, and the COVID crisis has expedited that transition seemingly overnight. Dealers’ digital facings are going to be their primary showrooms through the duration of the pandemic and far beyond, and they need to adjust their business models to align with changing consumer shopping habits and seamlessly fulfill customer needs.

“If your website is not transactional you need to make it so immediately,” Ristow advised. “AVB Marketing can get you there fast and painlessly.”

AVB Marketing is a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc.