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How the category leaders help retailers make money

January 22/29, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 16

By Lindsay Baillie

 

The flooring industry’s largest manufacturers are making significant efforts to provide multi-channel solutions for their respective aligned retailers. Both Mohawk and Shaw Floors are listening to retailers and consumers to uncover the best ways to support the independent flooring retailer via product innovation, merchandising, digital marketing and lead generation.

FCNews spoke with Seth Arnold, vice president of residential marketing, Mohawk, and Dan Crutchfield, director, Shaw Flooring Network, Shaw Floors, to uncover what both manufacturers are doing to help their aligned retailers succeed.

 

Product. “In particular with independent retailers, there has been a trend away from soft surface flooring. When we look at developing products in order to stop that trend we have to develop extraordinary features. Take products such as SmartStrand Silk Reserve, for example. If we take the main feature of the category—soft—and maximize it to astonishing levels while providing durability, we’re helping retailers command the highest possible margins even if they are not getting the same square footage.

“We also recently launched Air.o, a hypoallergenic alternative to carpet, which doubles the number of people who would consider soft flooring. This is a gold mine for retailers because when a consumer walks into a showroom she might have her heart set on soft flooring but then feel her only option is hard surface due to respiratory issues. When the retailer can turn that around it increases her likelihood of purchase and allows the retailer to command a trade-up margin.”

Merchandising. “We spent six months talking to consumers about how they shop for wood. We found consumers have very high standards for wood but get completely overwhelmed. Also, the consumer actually simplifies things by thinking of laminate and hardwood as one category. Our new laminate strategy is to merchandise it with a branded collection called RevWood and put it together with our hardwood products. What we’ve seen from consumers is you can provide greater choice with a simpler value proposition that speeds up the decision and allows retailers to make more money on every sale.”

Digital marketing and lead generation. “We’re currently developing digital merchandising lead-generation packages for all of our hero products.  Every retailer that has utilized these tools is coming back asking for more because they’re seeing higher traffic. They’re seeing better qualified leads and they’re driving sales. When you’re visible online and have good content, that is how you get good leads.”

Overall. “The No. 1 thing we’re doing to help ensure the success of all retailers is Omnify. There’s this growing younger demographic that has a bias toward digital. If an average retailer has 25 people walking through their physical front door, there are 1,000 people walking through their digital front door. It seems to me the most important thing Mohawk can do is help improve the close rate on the 1,000 who are looking digitally without giving up the 25 people who are walking through the physical door. I truly believe Mohawk is three to five years ahead of any other flooring brand when it comes to connecting the digital and physical strategy.”

 

Product and merchandising. “Private labels and exclusive product programs—including our most successful collection and display system—have been hallmarks of the Shaw Flooring Network since its inception. Even more important, we are committed to the future of our members with styles, trends and innovations that meet today’s consumer demands. We want to make sure we are designing products, collections and merchandising units that complement

the way consumers want to shop vs. the way our industry has traditionally wanted to sell. We are committed to researching consumer behaviors so we can help our members be successful in today’s marketplace.”

Digital marketing and lead generation. “The world of digital marketing changes rapidly. And, because it is an increasingly important part of the consumer’s purchase process, digital marketing can be a particular source of anxiety for a lot of retailers. The Shaw Flooring Network is committed to helping members, and we offer a complete suite of services. For social media support, we offer a world of content for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram through Promoboxx. We provide easy-to-build, professional flooring websites—complete with product catalogs—and support through Shaw Web Studio. In addition, we help retailers garner positive reviews and maintain their digital reputations through Share It Forward. As digital marketing trends evolve—and they will—we will continue to work with great service providers and internal professionals to offer new and enhanced digital marketing tools and expertise.”

Overall. “Shaw has conducted an extensive amount of proprietary consumer research over the last 12 months. Plus, the company is investing time with key retailers to better understand their challenges, needs and opportunities—and how Shaw can formulate a stronger partnership in helping them achieve success as they define it. Using what we are learning from both the consumer research and our customers, we’re continuing to evaluate our findings to offer meaningful solutions that benefit our valued retail partners. Shaw Flooring Network aligned retailers have already been exposed to some of this data, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. We’re listening to consumers and learning their motivators and drivers more than we ever have so we can develop strategies around eliminating their headaches. By acknowledging any potential issues head on, we hope to assist our valued retail partners with combatting abandonment and other common concerns that could lead to the loss of a sale, making them savvier to consumer needs and expectations.”