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Mobile Marketing partners with WFCA

Royersford, Pa.—Mobile Marketing, a full service strategic mobile and digital marketing agency, has partnered with the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) to provide retailers with a unique e-commerce platform to sell area rugs direct to consumers.

The Rug Shop is an e-commerce platform offering a retailer branded online rug shop with more than 35,000 brand name area rug SKUs that can be seamlessly incorporated into WFCA retail member consumer websites. Each area rug portal store is powered by Mobile Marketing’s scalable flooring e-commerce technology that equips each individual store application with a robust catalog offering and powerful online e-commerce marketing tools. The mobile first platform is fully responsive, providing consumers with the ability to view, select and order their area rugs from their mobile phones, tablets and desktop computers. The Rug Shop service includes catalog management, customer service, returns, orders and credit card processing. Retailers adopting The Rug Shop platform receive a live, branded website within two weeks of placing an order.

“We’re excited to partner with the WFCA to offer The Rug Shop to their members,” said Carole Cross, president and CEO, Mobile Marketing. “The e-commerce tool will enable retailers to add an element of business to their online offering with minimal effort. They will be able to grow new revenue channels with zero inventory and compete with online retailers like Wayfair, among others. Many flooring retailers do not sell area rugs because of the cost of inventory, space restrictions on the showroom floor, catalog maintenance issues and technology challenges. We’ve created an e-commerce solution that solves these problems and will increase revenue while meeting the needs of these retailers.”

Eligible retailers will be able to sign up for The Rug Shop with Mobile Marketing representatives located at the WFCA booth 2057 at The International Surface Event in Las Vegas, Jan. 30-Feb. 1.  Retailers can also inquire online at www2.rugs.shop/info/.

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Rise in e-commerce concerns flooring retailers

July 31/Aug. 7: Volume 31, Issue 4
By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2017-08-07 at 11.20.23 AMAs e-commerce grows in the retail channel, specialty flooring retailers have expressed concern that online sales could negatively impact their business. It’s a subject that has many store owners and managers on edge.

“Don’t get me going on this topic,” Ben Boss, owner of Boss Carpet One Floor & Home, Dixon, Ill., told FCNews. “Looking out 10 to 20 years, I wouldn’t be surprised if the flooring retail landscape is completely different.”

Andrew Wiebe, co-owner of Red Deer Carpet One Floor & Home, Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, echoed those sentiments and fears, adding, “It’s coming, folks.”

Cathy Buchanan, owner of Independent Carpet One Floor & Home, Westland Mich., had this observation: “Just look at Amazon and how it has taken [online retailing] by storm. Our world and the interpersonal relationships are dwindling. I am concerned.”

Looking at news reports, you can understand why dealers are feeling uneasy. Through June 20, there have been 5,300 store closing announcements in the U.S. this year, making 2017 the second worst year on record at the six-month mark. The worst year ever for store closings was 2008 during the Great Recession, when Credit Suisse counted 6,163 closings. Some believe 2017 might eclipse that number.

The growth of e-commerce and what retail experts say is an overbuilt retail landscape has contributed to this situation. According to the U.S. Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce, e-commerce sales in the first quarter of 2017 accounted for 8.5% of total retail sales. That compares to 7.8% of total sales in Q1 2016, 6.9% in Q1 2015 and 6.2% in Q1 ’14. Five years ago, for example, e-commerce represented 5.1% of total retail sales.

So while flooring dealers worry about e-commerce’s rise, there is some encouraging news. The retail consultancy Alix Partners tracked five years of financial performance for 20 publicly traded retailers. For the group, online sales grew from 10.5% of total sales in 2012 to 15.5% in 2016—but margins steadily declined by 150 basis points to 9% in the year. It concluded that retailers’ store fleets were subsidizing their online businesses.

What’s more, it cited a recent study of millennial shopping habits in which 82% of respondents said they still prefer shopping in stores.

While the tactile, face-to-face experience of shopping for flooring in a brick-and-mortar store will likely never go away, retailers like Wiebe said dealers must come to terms with the growing trend toward online sales, particularly among DIY and low-cost segments.

Deb DeGraaf, owner of DeGraaf Interiors, Grand Rapids, Mich., agrees there are consumers who will always want to touch and feel before they purchase, “but in that case some of us are going to be used for the touching and feeling of the product and the customer will then purchase online. I see this being a problem particularly with case goods. Rolls of carpet will remain primarily through retailers and box stores because of the challenge of receiving the roll. It is very important that we as independent retailers create an experience and romance the customers when we get the opportunity.”

As e-commerce sales grow some flooring retailers say they will turn to more private-label goods as a way to slow e-commerce’s growth. Others, however, worry that suppliers can use e-commerce to leapfrog the retail channel and sell directly to the end user.

“We should be very concerned,” said Casey Dillabaugh, owner of Dillabaugh’s Flooring America, Boise, Idaho. “Anything that eliminates the friction of the purchase decision in the eyes of the consumer ought to be considered serious competition. As such, as retailers, we must be willing to explore other non-traditional ways of relating and communicating with our potential customers. With all that said, I do believe there will always be a sector of the community that still wants the experience that only a specialty flooring retailer can provide. In the end, it’s how we relate to the customer that will ensure our survival.”

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Is e-commerce right for your business and our industry?

by John Weller Jr.

In my work with FloorForce, I interact with independent flooring retailers daily. The buzz on the street is e-commerce—often considered to be the antithesis of the traditional way to sell flooring—and what effect it may have on sales in brick and mortar stores.

While at the National Wood Flooring Association convention I spoke with many dealers and distributors, and was amazed by the frequency with which I was brought into conversations about the opportunities for sales and increased market share made possible through e-commerce. Continue reading Is e-commerce right for your business and our industry?