AVB’s CEO delivers Summit keynote on keeping members competitive
By Alan Wolf, YSN
In his traditional kickoff to AVB’s annual Summit this morning, CEO Jim Ristow reminded a packed house that the post-pandemic gravy train has slowed and a new competitive posture is needed to stay competitive.
Just as BrandSource members pivoted to seize unprecedented COVID-era demand, so must they update their go-to-market strategies, now that the fire hose of appliance, home furnishings and consumer tech sell-through has slackened.
The COVID gold rush is over, Ristow said, and business is normalizing — meaning margin-squeezing promotions are back, once-scarce inventory has become a liability again, and customers are no longer lining up at retail stores.
Add to that the backdrop of a weak housing market, rising interest rates and stubborn inflation, and members are once again finding themselves at a crossroads. To continue to win in the marketplace, dealers as well as integrators need follow a “post-COVID playbook” that re-embraces some of the basic blocking and tackling of retail.
Salespeople can no longer be order-taking clerks, Ristow said; they have to sell and step up customers to product-enhancing accessories and services. Likewise, owners need to increase their advertising spend and add promotional messaging to their websites to keep pace with competitors and drive traffic to their online and terrestrial stores.
But one member or even one buying group can’t do it all on their own, he cautioned. BrandSource, together with its four group affiliates — ProSource, Mega Group, NEAG and Intercounty — represents a formidable force for independents that offers an advanced suite of retail tools, services, merchandising programs and support. These range from the digital marketing, backroom systems and e-commerce expertise of AVB Marketing, to the in-house floor planning developed by Mega Group, to the timely deliveries of cutting-edge consumer tech from a newly enhanced Expert Warehouse.
But to benefit from these solutions — and those who employ them significantly outperform those who don’t — dealers must “plug in” to the AVB toolbox and utilize the services at their disposal. Ristow compared this to an analog-era road trip, before GPS and online reservations replaced road maps and phone directories. Today, travelers reap the benefits of the millions of dollars invested in new technologies, making their journeys cheaper and more efficient, he said.
Likewise, by plugging in to the vast array of simplified tools and services that the AVB family brings, members across all the groups can be assured of a safe and successful arrival.
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YSN publisher AVB BrandSource is the nation’s largest merchandising and marketing co-op for independent appliance, mattress, furniture and CE dealers.