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Technology: Xintory.com 2.0—More products, improved functionality

October 9/16, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 9

By Reginald Tucker

 

Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 10.29.06 AMEarlier this year the flooring industry got its first look at Xintory.com, a web-based B2B portal designed strictly for manufacturers, distributors, dealers and installers to sell and buy overstocks, drops and specials (FCNews, Feb. 27/ March 6, 2017). The objective, according to Larry Feldman, the 30-year floor covering industry veteran who founded the company, was to provide a marketplace where sellers and buyers in the trade can reliably and securely get together to solve an issue that impacts virtually everyone across the supply chain—what to do with excess, discontinued inventory.

Nearly a year after the program’s first beta test, the company reports not only a significant increase in usage among both buyers and sellers but also a host of improvements and upgrades. These enhancements, which have resulted in what Feldman refers to as “Xintory.com 2.0,” are designed to improve the program’s overall functionality for all parties involved.

Among the most notable improvements and changes: a continually expanding online inventory; door-to-door delivery service; a new “Buyer’s Alert”; a “Make-an-Offer” feature; and a new product pricing function that reflects the true scale of the discounted product offerings.

“People who may have visited the site a few months ago but not lately will be very surprised,” Feldman stated.

Following is a closer look at the upgrades and what they mean for users:

Expanded inventory. New products are listed on Xintory.com every single day. To put things in perspective, this translates into many millions of dollars worth of product featured on the site since last December. Categories currently offered on Xintory.com run a wide gamut—resilient flooring, carpet/area rugs, ceramic and stone, hardwood and laminate, as well as subfloor prep materials and accessories. Virtually every product category is represented.

“We have a lot of product here and some amazing bargains on different products,” Feldman explained. “If buyers are looking for a significant amount of product for their stores—or if they just want several hundred feet for a small job—they can frequently find what they’re looking for on Xintory.com. It’s important that buyers keep coming back to see what’s new.”

Door-to-door delivery. Buyers can now arrange for their own shipping or have Xintory do it. Users can simply click a button and Xintory will provide a freight quote, add it to a buyer’s cart and provide door-to-door delivery service, thereby simplifying shipping logistics.

New “buyer’s alert” feature. In the event a retailer or distributor can’t find what they’re looking for on Xintory.com, the buyer can sign up for customized product alerts by literally clicking a button. As Feldman explains: “Let’s say a buyer is looking for 650 square yards of carpet tile in a particular color, but she doesn’t want to pay any more than $10 a square yard. When she clicks the ‘add alert’ button, we can tell her when it becomes available. At the same time, we can contact all of our sellers to try to find the material for that buyer. In short, buyers can leverage our floor covering network to help them find the materials they are looking for.”

Counter-offer functionality. Xintory employs technology that lets buyers make an offer and negotiate their own price. It not only provides shoppers with more purchasing flexibility, but it also boosts engagement between buyers and sellers. “Looking at the transaction patterns, we can see many sales go through this negotiation process,” Feldman explained.

More transparent pricing. When registered sellers list the prices of their products on the site, Xintory asks manufacturers and distributors for their regular list price and dealers their original cost. “This way, the buyer knows Xintory is actually selling the products at a significant savings—which means 50%-90% off, in some cases,” Feldman said. (He cited one case where a buyer saved more than $9,000 on a small order of 502 square yards of carpet tile.) Note: Registered/verified users cannot see any prices unless they are signed in. This prevents non-trade consumers from price shopping. Accounts can be set up for free; no fees are charged unless a purchase is completed.

Other key features of Xintory.com include hyperlinks to manufacturer websites, which allows potential buyers to obtain more detailed information such as product specifications, features, etc. “Everything about the new Xintory 2.0 portal is designed to drive more buyers to the site,” Feldman explained.

One such buyer is Lois Hatton, purchasing and inventory clerk for Re:Source New Jersey in Budd Lake. Her first go-round interfacing with a particular seller using the system was a little tricky, but she said the second experience with Xintory.com was much smoother. “It’s probably better for the big mills or retailers that have a lot of inventory; we’re a smaller installation contracting company. But overall I think it’s a good program. And the prices are attractive.”

Those observations are in line with others who have used the system. “It’s a cool website and a useful tool,” said Tom Cooper, vice president of dealer development, Tandus Centiva, which currently features select overstock products on Xintory.com. “I think it’s a great program.”

Several months ago, Xintory conducted several focus groups with buyers to get their feedback on the system and to explore ways to improve functionality. “After making these changes and getting back to the buyers in the focus group, they feel we answered their concerns,” Feldman noted.

A new feature that Xintory buyers really like is the shipping tool. “Xintory has added a freight option that makes it easier to get a better handle on the delivery costs,” said Jerry Jennings, owner of a Floor Trader store in Lawrence, Kan. The ability to order samples quickly and efficiently is also a draw. “The site gives us access to inventory that we wouldn’t otherwise have. Larry [Feldman] has really done a nice job with the site. It’s been working out fine for us.”

Fine, indeed. According to Feldman, Xintory.com has seen both its transactional volume and the amount of users increase every week. “We’re still a start-up and we’ve got a ways to go, but we’re getting great feedback and it’s good to see people are using the site. It takes a lot of persistence to get people comfortable using the system, but the trends we’re seeing are very encouraging.”

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Technology: Houzz programs support retailers, suppliers

May 22/29, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 25

By Lindsay Baillie

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 10.30.44 AMHouzz, a visual-based, online platform focused on home renovation and design, is working to provide flooring retailers a space to develop name recognition in their local markets. The goal is to help retailers reach new customers and network with other flooring/home remodeling professionals.

“Houzz is the largest platform for home remodeling and design,” said Kathleen Hegedus, industry marketing representative for Houzz. “We have more than 40 million people using this site and app every month to get inspiration, get smart about home improvement and ultimately find the right professionals for their projects. Whether that’s a small or large project, we have something for everyone.”

The company offers free and easy-to-use profiles to flooring professionals. It also provides additional local advertising programs that flooring retailers can use to drive extra exposure in their local markets and also gain new business. “We’re happy to talk with any local installer or retailer about the options that are available to them,” Hegedus said.

Houzz also has several co-op programs with manufacturers, including Armstrong, Mohawk and Shaw. In fact, Houzz acknowledges manufacturers and retailers with its “Best of Houzz” awards, which celebrate the best design, customer service and photography on the website.

Houzz strives to add value for its partners by regularly creating new features and enhancements. One example is Idea Books, which allows retailers to connect and communicate with prospective clients. “It also keeps a lot of that inspiration and communication in a single place, which can be beneficial for flooring professionals to stay organized as they share those ideas with their prospective clients,” Hegedus explained.

Looking to the future, Hegedus said Houzz is focused on making improvements by testing new features with its customer base. “We look forward to even more co-op and national partnerships down the road.”

Flooring professionals interested in opening an account can go to Houzz.com/pro to sign up.