In the Event: Brand Source Unveils ExpertTech
The 1,000 dealers represented at the 2012 Las Vegas-held Brand Source 2012 Convention in late August witnessed the demonstration of a new cloud-based point-of-sale (POS) system developed by the buying group that will connect all members.
Group executives said the system would revolutionize data management while smoothing the information flow and sales transaction process between customer and sales associate right in the showroom.
ExpertTech, as the system is named, has been in beta testing with a dozen Home Entertainment Source (HES) and Brand Source dealers of all sizes and profiles for the past few months. “By January 1, we will start rolling it out. It’s a process,” said Brand Source CEO Bob Lawrence. An educational regimen will be part and parcel of the rollout, and is set to include webinars, regionals and some one-on-ones.
With the system, salespersons can use the PC or mobile device of their choice in their sales presentation, accessing and printing or emailing spec sheets for customers.
The system also integrates a double-entry accounting system, and provides the capability of true cost-inventory management as well as access to live inventory information at Expert Warehouse for all members who choose to subscribe ($39.95 per month, billed in six-month increments, in addition to a setup fee). It also allows RFID and barcode inventory management, and instant rebate tracking, among other conveniences such as training video access.
“It will give you all the information you need to make a sale, in the palm of your hand,” explained Greg White, chief software architect at Brand Source Mobile, who conducted demos for the General Session audience, using a screen template set up to look just like a typical—and familiar—order ticket. “There’s no need to leave the customer’s side.”
Andy Whiteside, a cloud technology expert at Brand Source, provided a brief primer on how cloud computing works, explaining to the audience that it was an on-demand experience that would be device- and network-independent, yielding predictable operating and capital costs. “What it means,” he said, “is IT delivered as a service to your business. You get to get out of the IT business, and to not worry about running IT.”
He added that using this system, where employees can work with their own mobile devices to engage with customers and with the POS platform, will be a plus not merely when serving a younger customer demographic but also when trying to attract a new employee demographic.
Lawrence said that promoting an understanding of how the cloud works was central to members’ acceptance of the system. “Inevitably, the security question comes up,” he said. “But the building [where the data are stored] that we’re in is the same one as Facebook, Google and The Learning Tree. If those companies aren’t worried, our members shouldn’t be.”
Lawrence explained another benefit of the system that will positively impact dealers’ relationships with their vendors. “Your close ratio is already three to four times that of the box stores you compete against,” explained Lawrence. “Our Achilles’ heel has always been the inability to report sales back to our suppliers. This is how we can supply information from our channel to them.
“A big benefit is that the user interface is so simple and intuitive,” said Jim Ristow, executive vice president of HES. “But the best thing about this for the members is that it’s future-proof. It’s an investment in a macro solution. It’s something no one could afford to do on their own.” CR