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Merchandising: Dealers put waterproof front and center

July 22/29, 2019: Volume 35, Issue 3

By Ken Ryan

When Craig Phillips, owner of Barrington Carpet in Akron, Ohio, purchased a Carpet Country location in January, he wasted no time in transforming the space to reflect the realities of 2019. “We shrunk our carpet area by 30% and moved all of our vinyl plank and tile products to the front of the store in the most prime real estate,” Phillips explained. “We highlight the products with large display floors of our best-selling products. At our Barrington Carpet location, we highlight the category right inside our front door in a feature area.”

Many flooring dealers across the U.S. are updating their showrooms to better display and merchandise the explosive and still-evolving WPC/rigid core segment, often displaying large sections of the product on the floor. “We actually installed every single color of one whole line so the customer could see it on the floor,” said Joe Elder, co-owner, Hiller’s Carpet One Floor & Home, Rochester, Minn. “We used to have boxes on display, but they never quite looked nice enough so we decided to install them on the floor. It makes it much easier to take a customer and show them exactly what it will look like installed.”

At North Dakota-based Carpet World Bismarck, more than 30 different 4 x 4-foot displays of WPC/SPC are displayed on the showroom floor. “In the last year or two, the only presentation change we have made is to indicate on our display floors which products are WPC and which are SPC,” said Jon Dauenhauer, co-owner.

Other dealers said it just makes sense to allocate more square footage to show your hottest selling items. “We have several different colors of WPC installed in the showroom with wing racks, room scene poster boards and installed photos,” said Carlton Billingsley, co-owner of Floors and More, Benton, Ark. “We stock nearly two dozen SKUs so we can put together four to five boards from a box to give the customer a visual of the finished floor. We have allocated more space to this product in the last year by dedicating a room we affectionately call ‘waterproof room.’”

The size of the showroom is critical in the decision process as to how much WPC/rigid core to display. Offering a wide range of display systems—including traditional waterfall, stair steps and wing displays—are best shown in larger format stores, according to dealers, as the bigger showrooms allow for more options and ease of transition when adding displays. Retailers typically add displays without subtracting, which can be an issue for a smaller showroom.

When to place the product is also critical. As the category emerged as a staple in the industry, many chose to shrink down their carpet, laminate and even solid locking LVT selections to make room. Some dealers created a waterproof section; others moved WPC/rigid to the front of their stores.

Like many others, A.J. Rose Carpets & Flooring now has a separate section for WPC/rigid core with display floors underneath. “It has its own section rather than being mingled with hard surface,” said A.J. Boyajian, co-owner.

Nick Freadreacea, president of The Flooring Gallery, with multiple locations in the Louisville, Ky., market, has committed significant space for this category and moved it to the front of his locations to reflect the importance of the category. “In the stores that allow, we place the multi-layer flooring category next to our wood category and then transition into ceramic,” he explained.