Ken’s Appliance Holds Record Tent Sale, Minus the Tent

Ken’s Appliance GM Meridith Turner is sold on virtual sales promotions.

By Andy Kriege, YSN

Ken’s Appliance & America’s Mattress Gallery in Grand Island, Neb., reinvented its annual Memorial Day tent sale by conducting the event entirely online this year.

General Manager Meridith Turner and the staff had been wrestling with the idea for a virtual tent sale for several weeks before making the decision to scuttle the tent in light of the COVID pandemic. But whatever reservations they initially had were quickly assuaged, as last month’s event was the most successful in the 17 years that Ken’s has held tent sales. Total sales volume was up 20 percent from 2019, which until now had been its best year on record.

Tent sale models were touted on a Facebook Carousel.

The company began promoting the virtual tent sale about two weeks before the holiday weekend with Google Search and Facebook campaigns coupled with display ads on their website. The digital push was supplemented by a limited print and radio effort in and around the Grand Island market.

 “Typically, we rent and set up a big tent,” Turner explained. “This year we didn’t feel comfortable doing that with the CDC social distancing guidelines in effect, coupled with the additional expense. But the only thing that changed is that we didn’t have the tent.”

Turner said that Brian Wattier, Vice President of Marketing at AVB Marketing, assured her that while “‘You will get a decent amount of exposure from having your tent out on the highway, you can create a larger virtual tent that will be viewed by many more people online and at much less hassle and expense.’ We took his advice,” she said, “and decided to go all in on a virtual event.”

Turner, who apparently has a knack for promotion following last month’s National Nurse’s Day Giveaway, employed the video chat feature on the Ken’s Appliance website to converse with customers live, together with phone and conventional chat. In addition, some customers made appointments to visit the store for an in-person consult. Foot traffic was high throughout the event as many more shoppers found their way into the store over the extended holiday weekend.

During the virtual sale the purchasing process typically consisted of a customer “clicking on one of our digital ads that directed them to a product on our website,” Turner said. Shoppers then utilized the webchat feature to ask questions and staffers explained the warranty and terms, just as they would during an in-store purchase. For some of the scratch-and-dent items the sales team would set up a video chat to indicate the damages and demo the features, followed by the sale, delivery and add-on purchases. “From clicks to conversions, the process went so smooth we are still pinching ourselves,” Turner said.

Besides Wattier’s encouragement, Turner is also glad she took the advice of her BrandSource account executive, Victoria Ortega, who had long recommended an upgrade to a transactional website, along with an assist from a LINQ4U specialist. Having an AVB Marketing staffer upload all of Ken’s inventory turned out to be a game-changer for the company at a time when labor was in short supply. For the first time ever, all of the dealer’s scratch-and-dent merchandise was loaded onto the website, including models, photos, pricing and other particulars.

As Ortega explained, “Meridith let me know what she was planning on doing and I created a digital marketing strategy that consisted of a Facebook Carousel, featuring models that were going to be on sale that weekend.” The AVB Marketing team also linked to a catalog that was specifically designed for Ken’s virtual tent sale and created a custom Google Search campaign.

“Meridith and her team are so innovative,” Ortega continued. “I love working with them. Their success is our success, and I feel very blessed to have them as a member of the BrandSource family.”

While Ken’s will likely return to an outdoor event under the tent next year, Turner guesses that the big top may be somewhat smaller, with a continued emphasis on digital promotion. But perhaps the biggest takeaway, she added, is that “This went so smoothly, we will always have ‘as is’ products on the website going forward, so we can continue to capture this business online.”

The other lesson learned by Turner: hire more people next time to handle the extra traffic.

AVB Marketing is a unit of AVB Inc., publisher of YourSourceNews.