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Dealers get creative in their positioning

FCNews Ultimate Guide to WPC: July 17/24, 2017

By Ken Ryan


Screen Shot 2017-07-31 at 9.44.50 AMFlooring retailers often talk about the persuasive effect a good story has on selling a product. With WPC/rigid core, they not only have a good story to tell, they have a means to demonstrate its waterproof properties.

As the product category evolves, the way flooring dealers treat these products in their stores will change accordingly. Most certainly they will add more space. That is already occurring at Independent Carpet One Floor & Home in Westland, Mich., which has transformed its showroom into a large selection of WPC and rigid core products.

“We’ve installed a number of products on our floor to present the many different directions a client can present in her home,” said Cathy Buchanan, owner. “Customers need to see, feel and hear the many different applications. It is a selling feature for sure.”

Most consumers who walk into a retail showroom these days know very little about WPC or rigid core. But that hardly matters, according to Nick Freadreacea, president of The Flooring Gallery in Louisville, Ky., who said most customers come in looking for hardwood anyway. It is during the ensuing conversation that customers are eventually brought to the LVT/WPC/rigid core area where they can witness the waterproof properties that have made these products so popular.

Still, it’s not as though WPC/rigid core sells itself. To be successful, retailers need to articulate the differences, and that is not always easy. “What is getting a little confusing is how to separate the WPC category and rigid core category,” said Sean O’Rourke, vice president of hard surfaces at Avalon Flooring, Cherry Hill, N.J. “Manufacturers are keen to distinguish between the two categories, touting advantages of one over the other but it may not be as easy on the showroom floor.”

How to position
Marjorie Benson, owner of Friendly Floors in Port Charlotte, Fla., positions WPC as the waterproof alternative to laminate. “The waterproof factor is the key,” she said. “Since the majority of our customers are middle-aged or older, [they] are concerned about water from their swimming pools, washing machines, dishwashers, pets, and increasingly from aging in place, making spills is another factor in their floor buying decisions. Physically, it’s positioned next to the laminate in the showroom.”

Montgomery’s CarpetsPlus in Venice, Fla., has installed several 8 x 8 sections in its laminate and LVP sections to showcase WPC/rigid core in a better light. “We actually have it installed next to higher-end laminate sections as well to show the consumer how far LVP has come as far as look/durability,” said Mike Montgomery, co-owner.

Flooring America OKC in Oklahoma City, meanwhile, displays its WPC/rigid core brands with its hardwood collections. “Doing so expands the size and scope of our hardwood department and allows the client to introduce herself to WPC without being referred to as vinyl,” said Bobby Merideth, president and director of business development. “It also exemplifies the realism of the WPC products when placed next to hardwood.”

Many dealers have created separate sections for their WPC products so customers can see how great they look on the floor. Steve Lipp, owner/manager of Carpet One Fort Wayne in Indiana, said there’s no better way to present the product than to have it installed on the showroom floor. “We have it in front of two wing displays. When we take customers to that section and explain the nuts and bolts of [COREtec] the unmatched colors and styling takes over and the product then sells itself.”

R.C. Willey Home Furnishings, with 13 locations in four Western states, relies on the manufacturers’ merchandising displays. As Eric Mondragon, hard surface buyer, explained, “For me this alone sets it apart from other hard surface products on my showroom floor. [For example,] my laminate and wood programs are all displayed in a universal generic type stacker display centered in pods in the middle of the showroom; the WPC products are wall units that surround the laminate and wood stackers.”

Clearly, there is no one way—or right way—to display these products. Whether installed on the floor, displayed in a wall unit, dropped into a fish tank, or placed in a wing tip rack or elsewhere, the key is to display it prominently in the store.

One issue flooring dealers are facing these days is how many collections to carry. Just as there is no concrete way to merchandise the category, there is no right or wrong answer to how many selections are enough. “I believe it’s not how many you carry but who you carry,” Mondragon said.