Digital Evolution - July 2013

Digital Evolution From July 2013

By Jay Flynn

 

If you are in the market for a big-ticket item—a car or new leather couch, for instance—it is very likely that you will start your shopping experience online, and today that online shopping experience is becoming more visual. Online retailers are using visualization tools, which show a product in a room scene, to help customers find the product that works for them, with the goal of getting the consumer into the dealers’ showrooms to make the final purchase.

Customers looking for flooring are also going online as they begin their quest, and they are expecting the same options for visualization that they are finding in other product categories.

The importance of this trend as it relates to flooring retailers should be very clear: consumers who are making fashion and style oriented big-ticket purchases are looking to see their product as it will look installed. In fact, data collected from the hundreds of independent flooring store websites that Creating Your Space manages proves the value of visualization. In reviewing the data from tens of millions of views in the past eight years, we find that more than 70% of consumer time is spent visualizing the dealers’ products in product catalogs, the Virtual Room Designer or in an upload of the consumer’s actual room. The average online visitor views five different products during their time on a website.

It is also apparent that major manufacturers like Shaw and Armstrong as well as the big boxes and the larger buying groups understand this. On their own websites, they make it quick and easy to view their products in catalogs and within various visualization tools.

Of course, if it were easy to visualize products in catalogs and room scenes, every dealer would be doing it today. The primary obstacle is accessing high quality, seamless images from the suppliers that are represented in a dealer’s showroom. Shaw led the way in making images available at a low cost to dealers, and Mohawk has followed with a similar offering for dealers’ catalogs. However, that leaves thousands of other suppliers that offer limited access to their product images or no images at all. 

How can a retailer begin to provide a visual experience for visitors to its website?

• First, partner with a flooring industry-focused website provider because they will have access to product images.

• Second, make sure your website provider offers a comprehensive list of suppliers. Ask to see this list before you sign a contract.

• Third, be sure that the website provider’s visualization tool works for the flooring categories you sell. A ceramic tile retailer has little use for a rug visualizer. 

If you are still not sure that visualization will benefit your business, consider the following situation. A consumer walks into a store and finds a great new laminate product for their kitchen but isn’t sure how it will look installed. The salesperson pulls out their iPad; locates the product on their company website; chooses a room in the visualizer similar to the consumer’s; changes the wall color, cabinets, and countertops to match the consumer’s current products; and shows how the flooring will look in the room—on the spot!

Even more powerful, if you are one of the dealers promoting a shop-at-home program, you are now equipped with a wide assortment of many of your showroom products via the website catalog and visualization tool. With this comprehensive and interactive online catalog, you won’t have to discover that you forgot a product sample in your showroom and miss the opportunity to close a sale.

You may think that you’ll hold off on implementing a visualization tool until the value of the concept is proven. Today, that proof of concept is complete, and your customers are expecting this experience from the company they will buy flooring from. Will it be you?

Copyright 2013 Floor Focus 



Other Archived Articles

Wholesale Inventories Rise in February   Full Article
Washington, DC, April 9, 2014 -- U.S. wholesale inventories rose more slowly in February than in January, according to the Commerce Department.

Interest Growing in Home Purchase Mortgages   Full Article
Washington, DC, April 9, 2014 -- Mortgage application volume fell last week as refinancing interest declined, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Knowles Named VP at Wood Firm PanTim   Full Article
Scarborough, ME, April 9, 2014 -- Rick Knowles has been appointed vice president, sales and marketing for PanTim Wood Products.

LEED Program Hits 3 Billion Foot Mark   Full Article
Washington, DC, April 9, 2014 -- The U.S. Green Building Council said that 3 billion square feet of green construction space has earned LEED certification worldwide.

Armstrong Raising Hardwood Prices   Full Article
Lancaster, PA, April 9, 2014 -- Armstrong said it will increase prices 4-10% in the U.S. and Canada on solid and engineered hardwood products effective June 9.

Mohawk Executives Get Double-Digit Raises   Full Article
Calhoun, GA, April 8, 2014 -- Mohawk CEO Jeffrey Lorberbaum got a 21.9% boost in his compensation last year.

InstaFloor Named Starnet Vendor Partner   Full Article
Bella Vista, AR, April 8, 2014 -- InstaFloor North America has recently been approved as an official Starnet Vendor Partner.

Job Openings Highest in More Than Six Years   Full Article
Washington, DC, April 8, 2014 -- Job openings rose by 300,000 to 4.17 million in February, the most in more than six years, according to the Labor Department.

Kennebec Lumber Signs Distributor Mr. Floor   Full Article
Solon, Maine, April 8, 2014 – Kennebec Lumber, parent company of Maine Traditions Hardwood Flooring, has signed an agreement with distributor Mr. Floor.

Bellavita Tile China Factory Gets ISO Certifications   Full Article
Carrollton, TX, April 8, 2014 -- Bellavita Tile said it has obtained ISO 9001 & 14001 certification for its wall tile factory in Tianjin, China.

Vacation Home Sales Surge in 2013   Full Article
Washington, DC, April 8, 2014 -- Vacation home sales rose strongly in 2013, while investment purchases fell below the elevated levels seen in the previous two years, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Floor Focus Vision Design Award Winners Announced   Full Article
Chattanooga, TN, April 8, 2014 -- We are honored to announce the winners of the fifth annual Vision Design Awards. This award was created to celebrate the dynamic integration of flooring and architecture.

More Housing Markets Continue to Improve   Full Article
Washington, DC, April 7, 2014 -- Of the approximately 350 metro markets nationwide, 59 returned to or exceeded their last normal levels of economic and housing activity in March.

Home Prices Rise Nationwide in February   Full Article
Irvine, CA, April 7, 2014 -- CoreLogic reported that home prices nationwide, including distressed sales, increased 12.2% in February compared to February 2013.

Commercial Firm H.J. Martin Wins Dal-Tile Award   Full Article
Green Bay, WI, April 7, 2014 -- An increase in product sales by over 50% from the prior year has earned commercial contractor H.J. Martin the 2013 Dal-Tile ‘Platinum Award’ for the Midwest Region.

Mullican Products Featured in 'Flipping Boston'   Full Article
Johnson City, TN, April 7, 2014 -- Mullican Flooring has provided solid hardwood flooring for two episodes of “Flipping Boston.”

Florida Tile Opens Designer Showroom in Dallas   Full Article
Dallas, TX, April 7, 2014 -- Florida Tile has opened its newest designer showroom concept and warehouse, a 15,000-square-foot facility in Dallas.

Starnet Closing in on Carpet Recycling Goal   Full Article
Darien, CT, April 4, 2014 -- Starnet said its commercial carpet reclamation program said that as of the end of March its members had recycled more than 44.6 million pounds of carpet.

Greenbuild Set for Los Angeles in 2016   Full Article
Washington, DC, April 4, 2014 -- The Greenbuild trade show will move from San Diego to Los Angeles in 2016.

Economy Adds 192,000 Jobs in March   Full Article
Washington, DC, April 4, 2014 -- U.S. employers added 192,000 jobs in March, according to the Labor Department.