By Alan Wolf, YSN
BrandSource has long urged members to board the e-tailing train, as e-commerce was quickly becoming the preferred method of shopping for more and more consumers.
But as AVB’s Chief Marketing Officer John White noted during his 2020 Convention keynote, the pandemic, with all its lockdowns, quarantines and store closures, has pushed online migration into overdrive, making it imperative for dealers to offer selling sites that are robust, engaging and fast.
“Just five months ago I talked about how we think 20 to 30 percent of our industry will transact online in less than five years,” he told attendees. “Today, I’m looking at a speed of change that no one could have predicted,” with many experts now anticipating 25 percent to fully half of all industry transactions moving to a dot-com purchase within that time frame. And the momentum will likely continue long after COVID-19 is finally vanquished.
That’s not to say that physical storefronts will become outmoded, although their role in retail will certainly evolve. “Brick-and-mortar stores will serve as a community anchor,” White predicted, “and to provide localization and the logistics functions.”
The good news, he said, is that all of these factors will act as a catalyst to “the fastest growth period for independent retailers that we have ever seen” — as many, if not most, BrandSource dealers have experienced since March.
To help support the rapid migration to digital and keep BrandSource members ahead of the pack, AVB is investing in next-generation technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning to optimize the online experience through personalization. “We will help you market to consumers with real-time, contextual personalization and merchandising,” White said, along with such self-service tools as chat bots and text messaging from websites.
Physical showrooms can also benefit from high-tech innovations, such as contactless payment solutions, smart tablets and digital kiosks. At the Convention, BrandSource introduced a showroom solution dubbed KIOSQ that combines all three by bringing an “endless aisle” of product offerings and relevant information to the sales floor via mobile devices or an AVB-supplied 55-inch touchscreen display.
“It’s challenging to imagine what the new retail landscape will look like in six months to a year from now,” White said. “But the reality is with the increase of unemployment, stay-at-home orders and business closures, consumers are making more thoughtful and deliberate decisions in purchasing essential products that enhance life at home. Shifting now to bring experiences to life in a more digitally-involved audience is crucial to set ourselves up for success post-pandemic.”
Click here to watch a replay of John’s marketing address and his call to e-commerce action.
For all things Convention, visit the 2020 Convention section of YSN.
BrandSource, a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc., is a nationwide buying group for independent appliance, mattress, furniture and CE dealers.