COVID-19 had a significant impact on the flooring industry in unexpected ways. On the one hand, it was affected adversely by transitioning with appointment-only showroom visits, reduced staff, stricter sanitation, masks, and social distancing, which caused a decrease in walk-in clientele. On the other hand, business increased with the “Shelter in Place” mandate causing people to look at their homes more closely as long as they had to be there, many deciding to make upgrades. With digital formats, customers ordered materials and found ways to move forward with remodeling projects through shop-at-home options, especially for home offices. Thanks to virtual meetings and video chats, the flooring business did continue, although at a slower rate.
Although many flooring companies stayed open with adequate inventory, their product offerings were basic. Custom projects would have to wait since sourcing materials started to become a challenge.
The root problem with retail flooring sources involved major supply companies. Many were forced to reduce non-critical expenses, including capital spending. The primary flooring supplier, Shaw, announced they were temporarily suspending many of their operations in North America during the pandemic. Armstrong remained in operation remotely for outsourced products. Tarkett announced customers might experience lead time increases. Mohawk experienced massive hits stemming from Europe’s impact. All of these companies and more suffered through slowed manufacturer production. While this made meeting supply and demand difficult, do-it-yourself big-box store businesses increased. It was safer to order a boxed kit and do it yourself, although not as professional.
Depending on outside resources proved detrimental to the American hardwood flooring businesses amid pandemic concerns, forcing them to change the way they acquired solid and manufactured hardwood floors. In addition, supply chain concerns remained low for distributors sourcing wood locally.
Maintaining flooring supply inventory is vital to survival in the flooring industry. Since many businesses do not have enough key products right now, custom orders are put on hold. Stock is dwindling, and while sourcing agents are being reevaluated, it’s important to keep any available materials and use them sparingly.
The pandemic will end eventually, and the economy will improve. Until that time, flooring retailers need to remain ready for anything in these uncertain times. Presenting a flexible and adaptable attitude to the public is important.
Communication with Retailers and Vendors
One thing that is in your control is how you streamline your workflow. Communicating between vendor and retailer is an important aspect that occurs on a daily basis! Time is limited as we all know. Being efficient means doing things that work well and in a timely manner–that includes how long and in what way you do that when talking to vendors and retailers in flooring. With VendorPriceBook, you simply need an internet connection and you can login to a system where you can share confidential pricing information to your retailers, including inventory levels, too! Retailers can create purchases right in the same portal! Our web solution is here to help you save time and money!