AVB introduces technology upgrades

LAS VEGAS – As the AVB team unveiled new technology launches here during the annual summit, CEO Jim Ristow thought of a time when retailers realized they needed quality websites to keep up with consumer demand. Now, he said, retail has arrived at another such crossroads of the shopping experience.

“Five or six years ago, the lightbulb went on that (retailers) need to have a really good website,” Ristow said. “We believe we’ve gotten to that point in the shopping experience.”

To enhance the shopping experience, technological advances include an integrated experience that brings together online and offline shopping, point-of-sale advances that add more real-time inventory views, a deeper endless walkthrough, and more. It’s part of an effort to improve the experience for retail workers and consumers.

Alongside the new sales and merchandising services, existing tools were available to members, which helped the group gain significant market share during the pandemic. A big part of the announcement was that AVB took these multiple tools and services, which can be overwhelming for a retailer, and bundled them into four simple tiers of service under the Alta banner as part of the group’s Simplify + Unify initiative.

“Our members have the best salespeople. What they didn’t have was a tool that would tie all that information, all that process, and all that stuff that people get online to what they have in stock. There’s a gap there,” said Dave Meekings, Chief Operating Officer. “Consumers go online and see all this information, images, videos, specifications and documents. They walk into the store and the seller, the best they can do is go online and find the exact same thing themselves. We take all this data and information and put it into an interface designed for the sales professional.”

AVB officials agreed that the advances are necessary as technology becomes more integrated into everyone’s lives and has become an expectation rather than a novelty.

“Think of how technology complements things you do every day,” said John White, chief marketing officer. “When you go to a restaurant, they don’t give you a menu; There is a QR code and you scan it.”

One of the new features can synchronize an online shopping journey with a store visit. A consumer visits a retailer’s website and selects a piece of furniture and places it in their shopping cart, but wants to sit inside before making a purchase. The system allows the consumer to share information with an in-store clerk, who can then retrieve the history to pick up where that consumer left off.

“It works both ways. You can start with the seller and complete online at home,” Ristow added.

Updates to AVB’s Kiosq platform add more SKUs to a retailer’s offering. “In the interiors space, the choice is very limited compared to what’s available out there. You may have 200 SKUs in the market, but there are 200,000 available. That’s the way to get some of that inventory,” White said.

AVB is also working with a handful of POS providers to create a system that integrates with them to provide real-time insights into inventory, pricing and more.

“You’re at the point now where if you’re on this system and using it with its capabilities, you can really seamlessly integrate with our tools, and it’s a unified platform at that point,” White said.

In addition, AVB has a browser-based POS system, Sync, in beta. It was designed to integrate with AVB’s existing systems and meet the core needs of a furniture or appliance retailer.

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