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

Job Openings Edge Down in September   Full Article
Washington, DC, Nov. 13, 2014 -- There were 4.7 million job openings on the last business day of September, according to the Labor Department.

NWFA Approves Vermeister Finish Products   Full Article
St. Louis, MO, Nov. 13, 2014 -- The National Wood Flooring Association said that Vermeister S.p.A. has been approved for the NWFA Accepted Product Seal and NWFA Accepted Eco Product Seal designations.

Dixie Discontinuing Carousel Custom Line   Full Article
Chattanooga, TN, Nov. 13, 2014 -- The Dixie Group said it will discontinue its Carousel custom manufacturing line.

CRI Outlines 2015 Initiatives at Annual Meeting   Full Article
Dalton, GA, Nov. 13, 2014 -- The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) held its annual meeting in Dalton, Ga. yesterday.

Initial Jobless Claims Remain Below 300K   Full Article
Washington, DC, Nov. 13, 2014 -- Initial jobless claims increased by 12,000 to 290,000 in the week ended Nov. 8, according to the Labor Department.

Resilient Institute Adds Seven New Members   Full Article
LaGrange, GA, Nov. 13, 2014 -- The Resilient Floor Covering Institute has expanded membership, adding four manufacturers and three suppliers to its roster.

Distributor Fishman Rolls Out Private Label Flooring   Full Article
Baltimore, MD, Nov. 13, 2014 -- Distributor Fishman Flooring Solutions said it is entering the private label flooring business.

Foreclosure Filings Spike in September   Full Article
Irvine, CA, Nov. 13, 2014 -- Foreclosure filings were reported on 123,109 properties in October, according to tracking firm RealtyTrac.

Wholesale Inventories Rise in September   Full Article
Washington, DC, Nov. 12, 2014 -- U.S. wholesale inventories rose 0.3% in September after a 0.6% gain in August, according to the Commerce Department.

Beazer Homes Returns To Profit for Year   Full Article
Atlanta, GA, Nov. 12, 2014 -- Beazer Homes reported fiscal fourth-quarter net income of $59.8 million or $1.88 per share, compared to $11.9 million a year ago.

Mortgage Applications Fall Last Week   Full Article
Washington, DC, Nov. 12, 2014 -- Applications for U.S. home mortgages fell last week as interest rates rose, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

NAFCD Names Award Winners   Full Article
Chicago, IL, Nov. 12, 2014 -- The North American Association of Floor Covering Distributors has named the winners of its Leadership in Action and Lifetime Achievement awards.

First TISE East Draws International Attendees   Full Article
Dallas, TX, Nov. 12, 2014 -- Hanley Wood Exhibitions said that its first-ever International Surface Event East featured 185 exhibiting companies covering over 50,000 square feet of booths and displays.

NAFCD Urges Members To Support Habitat Stores   Full Article
Chicago, IL, Nov. 11, 2014 -- The North American Association of Floor Covering Distributors Association is urging its members to support Habitat for Humanity's ReStores by donating materials and products.

Former Mannington VP Hollinger Dies   Full Article
Kennett Square, PA, Nov. 11, 2014 -- Mark A. Hollinger, age 58, a long-time Mannington Mills employee, died Nov. 5 after a year long battle with glioblastoma multiforme.

Desso Using Water Company Waste in Carpet Tile   Full Article
Waalwijk, The Netherlands, Nov. 11, 2014 -- Carpet company Desso said it is using chalk from local water companies to make its products.

Investment Adviser Reduces Stake in Armstrong   Full Article
Boston, MA, Nov. 11, 2014 -- Wellington Management Company of Boston has reduced its stake in Armstrong World Industries to less than 5% of the firm.

Mr. David's Founders Named Persons of Year   Full Article
Chicago, IL, Nov. 11, 2014 -- David and Leonard Zmijewski, the founders of Mr. David's Flooring International, have been named Persons of the Year by the Chicago Floor Covering Association.

Dover Rug & Home Wins Philanthropy Award   Full Article
Natick, MA, Nov. 10, 2014 -- Dover Rug & Home said it is the recipient of the 2014 Community Excellence Award, given by the Family Business Association of Massachusetts.

More Home Refinancers Taking Cash at Closing   Full Article
Washington, DC, Nov. 10, 2014 -- Borrowers cashed out an estimated $8 billion in home equity through refinancing of conventional mortgages in the third quarter, according to Freddie Mac’s quarterly refinancing report.