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Carpet One members ‘engage’ with consumers, product

Jan 18/25; Volume 30/Number 15

By Nadia Ramlakhan

Orlando—The flooring industry has evolved coIMG_1411nsiderably in recent years and Carpet One Floor & Home’s 2016 winter convention, held at the Orange Country Convention Center here Jan. 9-10, was focused primarily on getting members and their sales associates up to date. “The path to purchase has dramatically changed within the last decade and we’re in front of it now,” said Eric Demaree, Carpet One president.

This year’s theme, “Engage,” consisted of engagement at multiple levels, whether it is between retailers and consumers or sales associates and products. “This whole convention is going to provide retailers with tools to get their employees engaged with our customers, merchandising, marketing and our products,” he continued, “and engaged with the proper level of training so they understand the world has changed.”

Windy Baker, Carpet One Floor & Home, Oro Valley, Ariz., understands adjustments need to be made to survive in the retail landscape. “It’s bringing up a conversation about engaging younger sales staff and millennials into the business not only as employees but also into our stores,” she said. “We need to learn how to relate to that generation and stay current with the times as far as which products we select and how we interact.”

Part of that stems from getting to the consumer earlier as she is searching for inspiration online. Today, over 85% of flooring buyers look to the Internet first for product education, positive reviews, room scenes and design ideas. To address these changed buying habits, Carpet One has developed One Stop Digital Plus—an updated content marketing program designed to help retailers be found online. The program helps with researching local keywords, writing marketing content, posting on social media, and managing ratings and reviews.

“I’ve learned digital marketing is the way our industry needs to go,” said Guy Pylypiw, Oshawa Carpet One Floor & Home, Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. “The industry has been far behind for too many years. If we don’t focus on digital we are going to fall behind the big boxes and larger competition.”

In terms of product, Carpet One is introducing programs to keep retailers engaged with their audiences. Cutting Edge Custom Area Rugs is an area rug program that will capitalize on the hard surface category’s increasing growth since a large majority of hard surface purchases are often accompanied by an eventual area rug purchase. Offering custom area rugs to customers will allow dealers to capture more market share as broadloom sales are being lost to hard surface.

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This new program also features a rug calculator, which easily and quickly calculates the cost of any custom area rug, allowing dealers to instantly create rugs with their customers. The online tool can be used on any mobile device.

While area rug sales boast a compelling percentage of flooring sales (10% of the entire industry, which translates to $2 billion, according to Carpet One), dealers will have to think outside the box to switch consumer buying habits for area rugs from mass merchants and online platforms to independent retailers.

Sheila Norton, C.T. Carpet One Floor & Home, Charles Town, W.V., has some ideas. “We are definitely acquiring the new display to complement our hardwood business,” she said. “We are selling more hard surface now and I would like to create an area rug package to give to those customers. The average time a consumer waits to purchase an area rug after her hardwood floor is installed is three weeks so you can use that time to your advantage. It’s just about the same time you would send a thank you card or warranty information, so you can combine that with information on different trends and edging we offer.”

In addition, Innovia and Innovia Touch will receive display updates in the spring. As a naturally soft and durable product in Carpet One’s performance collection, the new graphics will focus on the notion of cleanability, an aspect that resonates heavily with consumers today.

Bigelow featuring Stainmaster will also revamp its display this spring. With three new wing card designs, each card will call out pet safe, active lifestyle or soft touch depending on which attributes apply.

“Everyone has done a good job of putting displays together and the programs are upscaled so that’s what I’m excited about,” said Wayne Kirby, Carpet One Floor & Home, Columbia, S.C., who has attended Carpet One conventions every year for the past 30 years. “We are going to take away how to upsell and sell better products and I think these displays will give us that.”