BrandSource Turns Up the Marketing Heat

Online enhancements sharpen competitive edge 

By Alan Wolf, YSN

In a wide-ranging Main Stage presentation at Summit on Monday, AVB’s Chief Marketing Officer John White presented a raft of online insights and initiatives designed to drive traffic and capture more customers.

White began with some good news: BrandSource members who were fully engaged in AVB’s toolbox of digital services outpaced overall industry growth by a delta of 12% during the January-February period, and finished 2023 “very strong” due in part to a stepped-up marketing investment.

To help maintain that momentum, White urged members to consider a host of recent digital developments beginning with Google Local Inventory Ads. The ads indicate that a product can be purchased nearby and it’s in-stock availability, and will carry shoppers directly to a member’s website where they can access product and inventory information. The ads “hyper-target local customers with intent to buy today, whether in-store or online,” he said, and generate 20% higher click-through rates than traditional online shopping ads. “This makes it a great ad tactic for local retailers,” he noted.

To participate, dealers are required to provide inventory availability per store in their product feed and feature availability information on the product landing page. Google Local Inventory product listings will then display free of charge in Google’s “See what’s in store” knowledge panel feature, located directly beneath a company’s store information on both Google Search and Google Maps. White recommends that dealers feature their best sellers, vendor-specific co-op SKUs or all large appliances in their Google Local Inventory ads.

Another free traffic driver, this one through AVB, is comprised of complimentary home page banners announcing holiday promotions.  The “Promotional Takeover” banners are generic in nature but holiday specific, and can help members further leverage the heightened sales activity that continues to center around the major holiday sales windows. To underscore the point, White noted that last Black Friday (November 2023) represented “the single biggest day ever” for BrandSource dealers.

And speaking of holidays, AVB Marketing is now offering its holiday marketing campaigns six months out, meaning members can currently view the promotional cadence through this coming Labor Day, and can choose to buy into group program bundle packages covering the second and third quarters.

On the vendor side, White said a new Global Max initiative provides microsites highlighting brand-specific products and promotions that “allow us to effectively drive traffic and convert shoppers,” and reminded members of the availability of turn-key vendor marketing programs that are “easy to opt in.”

Finally, White addressed the advent of artificial intelligence and machine learning, and acknowledged that AVB is already tapping into the technology for software development, business analyses, technical writing, marketing content and chat clients. He said AI can help enhance efficiency, productivity, personalization and customization; can assist in decision making by digesting wide sets of data; and will likely lead to better, more human-like chatbots due to its natural language ability.

That said, there are still uncertainties surrounding AI, White added, including reliability, biases and copyright concerns that have prompted AVB to take a more cautious “leading edge, rather than cutting edge” approach to development.

YSN publisher AVB BrandSource is the nation’s largest merchandising and marketing co-op for independent appliance, mattress, furniture and CE dealers.

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