SACRAMENTO, Calif. — AVB Marketing, the e-commerce, digital advertising and social media arm of AVB/BrandSource, held a webinar on Tuesday that offered the industry a sneak peek at updates to its Alta website platform and its LINQ 2.0 product and price management tool.
John White, chief marketing officer at BrandSource, started by talking briefly about new updates, including that the Alta website platform has been upgraded to feature enhanced user experience through predictive search functionality to make it easier for consumers to find what they’re looking for on a retailer’s website. He also said that redesigned category pages aim to enhance user navigation and engagement, and BrandSource recently implemented an email cart button that allows consumers and salespeople to build a cart and then share it with up to five people.
The presentation then focused on three main features: the annual promotional calendar, website merchandising and LINQ 2.0.
BrandSource’s digital strategy team works each year to put together an annual promotional calendar, and there have been some big changes this year.
The first of which is opening up a suite of Google ad solutions to retailers, including Google Discovery ads, which are mobile-only ads designed to engage customers through inspirational lifestyle imagery. Another addition was the Google Smart Shopping feature, a shopping experience that displays recommendations to new and potential customers based on their recent searches.
The promotional calendar also includes over the top television (OTT), a form of advertising used for streaming cable services. The OTT feature gives customers the ability to shop directly with the retailer while streaming through a custom QR code that links directly with products on their site.
BrandSource will also continue to focus on Facebook and Instagram advertising as part of the overall strategy. Through Facebook and Instagram video ads, BrandSource creates video content and places it in the news feed between a user’s “follow account” feed to help with awareness. They also tested and found success with Facebook collection ads — ads featuring a small collection of products.
“A 2021 digital calendar plans for three major messaging points each month of the year – customer appreciation, buy more/save more events, and national promotional periods/AVB exclusive promotional periods,” said Chris Swift, BrandSource’s director of digital marketing. “All of this is designed to complement your digital advertising, regardless of if there is a promotional window or not.”
Eric Hunter, BrandSource’s director of e-commerce, explained that merchandising your website is the single most important piece of your business online. “Advertising brings them to the site, merchandising keeps them there to shop,” he said.
To help members put top-selling products front and center, BrandSource has integrated a merchandising strategy that takes the guesswork out of putting the best sellers and on-promotion products first and foremost in the catalog.
“Instead of letting customers wander the endless isles of your online store, we have partnered with vendors and automagically merchandised the items that sell best and are available,” Hunter said. “Product flags and special catalogs allow for prime website real estate to showcase your highest margin product, and all of this can be done through a simple filing port.”
The company can also help with ensuring things like add-ons, warranties and delivery options are available at checkout to ensure customers have everything they need.
Finally, BrandSouce announced that it’s partnering with ChargeAfter, a solution that allows merchants and lenders to offer multiple personalized financing options to consumers through one app. “For members offering payment gateways online, we’ve seen over a 230% increase in transacted sales,” Hunter said.
LINQ 2.0 is a pricing and product management tool informed by the growing needs of retailers. BrandSource announced an updated user experience that aims to make it easier for retailers to stay connected to daily changes and to act quickly on those changes. “It makes planning price changes and managing merchandise easy when on the go,” said Laura Dake, BrandSource’s senior product development manager. “You can log in from any device at any time and make the changes you want.”
In addition, new dashboard includes:
- Customization features for the interface, allowing for a personalized experience.
- A dual-phased rule optimization feature that speeds up processing and enhances the infrastructure.
- An algorithm that pre-runs rules after 5pm PST based on changes made throughout the day. The goal of which is to cut down on the number of rules processed overnight and the ability to update websites faster.
The session concluded with a Q&A where White explained that there’s a long list of POS providers that the new technology works with, including E-Pass, Storis, Whirlwind and Profit Systems, among others. He also answered a question about being able to shoot pictures from a phone using LINQ 2.0 — you can shoot a picture and directly upload it into LINQ 2.0 — and said that in terms of payment gateways, BrandSource recommends starting with Amazon Pay, Paypal, and something like CardKnox.
In 2020, White said BrandSource saw phenomenal results in online shopping. “Digital efforts drove a 718% increase in purchases from ads,” White said. “We anticipate this will continue.”
He also said BrandSource plans to hold web sessions throughout the year to keep retailers up to date on upgrades and improvements, but the next session has not yet been announced.