Six Must Have Tech Tools for the Flooring Retailer

These days, digitalization and online programs have made our jobs easier, faster, and more efficient. Even individuals who work in construction, home repair, or other physical professions can benefit from technology — if they have the right tools at their disposal.

What tools do flooring retailers need to maximize their productivity and boost their business? Here are a few of our favorites:

CRM Software

Customer Relationship Management (or CRM) is a critical part of any company’s operations. Usually, this task falls to an admin professional, who takes phone calls from prospective customers, manages customer expectations, and keeps the company schedule running like clockwork. This work is important, but it’s also time consuming… which is why many flooring retailers are streamlining the process by automating their CRM efforts. With a CRM software, your admin staff will have much more time on their hands.

Customer Communication Tools

The initial process for any flooring project involves A LOT of talking. Customers will want to ask retailers about different types of flooring, different colors, different finishes, and a whole lot more. However, today’s consumer doesn’t always want to spend hours in a showroom discussing things with the flooring staff; they’d rather have these preliminary talks from the comfort of home. Flooring retailers can increase their number of prospective customers simply by adding a “chat” feature to their website with a website plugin or communication software.

Implement a live chat feature to help your customers

Visualization Tools

Some customers (and retailers, for that matter) are visual learners. You can talk about the benefits of a certain flooring style or finish all day long, but they won’t understand until they see the product in action. It may not be possible to have a showroom with samples of EVERY flooring type in your inventory, but you can use visualization software to show customers how a certain floor might look in a room. There are even some visualizers that allow customers to upload photos of their own home. With this technology, you can help your customers really see how great flooring could change their rooms for the better. 

Suction Flooring

Nano-suction technology has been a part of the flooring industry since 2018, but this innovation warrants a mention here. This technology uses tiny suction cups on vinyl planks to adhere to non-porous surfaces, creating a luxurious finish without the use of adhesive. This is a great choice for any project that requires laying planks over a non-porous surface, which makes it a must-have product in your inventory. 

A Multi-purpose Cutter

The tools we’ve discussed so far are very useful during the preliminary discussions for a flooring project — but once the flooring is finally going down, you need tech that’s a bit more “hands on.” A multi-purpose flooring cutter is an essential tool for any one who works in the flooring industry. If you have one cutter that can cut wood, vinyl, cork, and much more (quietly and without producing dust to boot), you’ll have one tool that will make any project easier.

Our Web Platform: VendorPriceBook

Finally, let’s discuss one of the toughest parts of the flooring business: inventory and pricing lookup. Too often, retailers spend needless extra time researching pricebooks for their clients — time that they should be spending helping their clients in other ways. With our web platform, you can say goodbye to paper pricebooks; we’ll connect you to vendors and help you find prices instantly, right from your smartphone.

To learn more about our web platform and see how we can help your flooring business, contact our team today.

Pandemic Home Remodeling

With Americans spending more time at home than ever, it’s hardly surprising that the home improvement industry is booming right now. Homeowners finally have a chance to reflect on the pros and cons of their space, and by working from home, many have more flexibility to meet with contractors and get estimates during the day. As a result, more Americans are willing to take the plunge into lengthy remodeling projects and are hoping to complete these home makeovers as quickly as possible.

A few popular trends are the main driving forces of home changes right now. Here are a few common renovations and some ways to better serve customers who want these changes.

Home Offices

Desperate for some semblance of work-life separation, a few Americans even looked into turning backyard sheds into home offices this year so that a walk across the backyard could symbolize a “commute”. Spare bedrooms, basements, and other spaces were repurposed for work or school with the addition of new lighting, flooring, or built-in desks.

Workout Rooms

Jokes about gaining the “Quarantine 15” aside, home workout spaces are on the rise. A survey found that after this year of transformation, 81% of millennials reported that they actually preferred to workout at home. As a result, homeowners dedicated spaces in their home for riding their Peloton (whose sales doubled this past year), streaming yoga classes, or lifting free weights. In some cases, this required new flooring, like vinyl or rubberized surfaces that can withstand a weight dropping on them.

Outdoor Spaces

With the option to visit usual leisure spaces restricted, and indoor gatherings off limits, many Americans have been looking into transforming their outdoor space into a new oasis for their families to congregate. According to NPR, deck construction was up 275% from March to July of 2020, and hiring landscapers was up 238%.

Family Spaces

Families with open-floor concepts may have been on edge as the pandemic forced work and school for every family member into one shared location. Jim Westover of William Duff Architects articulated this idea in an interview with Architectural Digest:  “The open-plan concept probably doesn’t work so well if more than one person is working from home or if the kids are being noisy, so that concept may be refined with partitions to dedicate space for working/home office.” For this reason, some homeowners are looking to put walls up or repurpose open spaces like basements to give further separation between the noisy activities of a busy family.

Renovations Prior to Selling

With interest rates reaching record lows, 42% of home listings were selling in two weeks or less this past year. Many people used their down time at home to fix their homes up to sell while the market was hot. These changes included safety changes to bring homes up to code and cosmetic touches inside and out to make their home as appealing as possible to buyers.

Making it All Simpler

With increased demand, the home improvement industry is seeing a golden opportunity it has never seen before. As a result, it’s in the best interest of both vendors and retailers in this industry to make these improvements as smooth and hassle-free as possible.

With home remodelers looking to make big changes to their homes in as short of a time period as possible, it’s important to streamline communication to help the customer make decisions efficiently. The VendorPriceBook app helps streamline communication between vendors and retailers in the home improvement industry, helping you better reach customers who want to make these changes. By simplifying the process, customers will find home remodeling less stressful, and will be more likely to want to become repeat customers in the future.

These Flooring Trends Might Surprise You

Styles come and go, and then come back again and that’s just the case for clothes–home design trends also experience shifts. Pastel pink tiles of the 90s. Checkered board floors of the 50s. Each decade seems to have its own signature look when it comes to flooring and interior designs. As flooring manufacturers, vendors and retailers, it’s important to stay on top of consumer trends because tastes do change, and that in turn affects supply and demand.

With the pandemic allowing more people to stay and lounge around in their homes, many people are looking to renovate. Flooring is a great first step to that process. Let’s take a look at what trends we think will stick out through 2021.

Hardwood: always a classic choice, hardwood can be elegant and modern at the same time. This year, you might want to take notice of cool color tones, wide planks, and environmentally friendly finishes. Source: The Flooring Girl.

Antimicrobial: health and safety are at top-of-mind now more than ever. “Antimicrobial” or “antibacterial” types of floors are those that are finished or with technology (i.e. Microban) which help inhibit the growth of bacteria.

Terracotta Tiles: social media is going crazy over these! These give a space a rustic, earthy charm if we do say so ourselves and they are less expensive than other ceramics. They can be as basic or as ornate as a home remodeler pleases–check out all the varieties here and you’ll see why they’re growing in popularity!

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If you want to visualize yourself as a renovator and understand the decisions they have to make before buying flooring, check out this video:

While there may be some debate on which flooring styles may ultimately takeover and be the next big trend, there’s one thing that will always ring true for consumers looking to renovate–they don’t want to wait around for pricing. With a long laundry list of items to buy and things to fix, a home renovator needs to know what flooring is in stock and what the cost is. As a retailer, a customer on the showroom floor will expect quick answers and paper pricebooks won’t cut it.

VendorPriceBook streamlines communication between vendors and retailers so looking up pricing and inventory can be made on-the-spot using a mobile device or computer. To learn more or to start your free trial, please go to VendorPriceBook.com.

How To Use Yelp for your Flooring Business

A flooring business is multi-faceted just like any other retail business. You have to deal with your suppliers, your customers, and your employees. In today’s world of Amazon, smart phones and social media galore, customers have a huge amount of leverage when it comes to their shopping choices. It literally hasn’t been easier for a consumer to conduct research and purchase items for their home renovation or remodeling…all from the comfort of their home. Of course, we know it’s imperative for a customer to physically come and see a flooring product before actually purchasing, so internet can take second place to an actual brick and mortar store. So how do they even choose which home flooring store to visit?

No doubt you’ve took to the internet to find reviews for a new restaurant you wanted to try out. Or perhaps you “Googled” the name of the dentistry you were considering switching over to. Online reviews are a major factor when it comes to buying decisions and Yelp is the king of this space.

Are you leveraging your Yelp profile? Here are a few easy tips to make sure you’re getting visits and phone calls your flooring business needs to thrive in this competitive market:

  1. Claim your profile: don’t have a Yelp page already up? It’s extremely simple to claim your business. Do this now and then go on to the next steps.
  2. Photos, photos and more photos: One or two photos of your store isn’t going to cut it. Be sure to include multiple photos of your exterior, interior and of specific products. Ensure you are adding descriptions to the photos as well with detailed and relevant captions.
  3. Fill out as much information as possible: that includes your website, company history, hours of operation, credit card acceptance, amenities and highlights.
  4. Respond and thank: yes, even if you get a great review, be sure to thank your customer. For negative reviews, take time to review their comment, learn from it, and write a polite and public comment. Allow them to see you understand their concern and would like to rectify the problem as fit.

If you can complete the above four tasks, you’re on the right track. Make your Yelp page a lead magnet!

If you find your customers complain about inventory or lack of clarity in pricing, you definitely want to check out VendorPriceBook.com which is a cloud-based app that allows retailers to instantly look up flooring pricing and inventory.

How to Increase Customer Satisfaction Through Technology

For any business, supply chain management can mean the difference between failure and flourishing. In the floor remodeling market, this rings especially true. How many projects have been derailed when a dream tile or hardwood is out of stock?

Shiny marketing may attract consumers, but inventory and prices form the bedrock of customer satisfaction. At the end of the day, they want practical and stylish flooring available now at the lowest price point possible. If any of these factors don’t align, your customer falls through the supply chain gap.

Technology Intervention

Increasing supply chain efficiency used to require much more legwork. Today, as they say, “There’s an app for that”. 

Read on to see how mobile technology can help your business close the gaps.

Mobile vs. Manual Accounting

For efficient inventory management, ditch the paper and turn to cloud-supported accounting like QuickBooks Online or Xero. Mobile accounting allows you to update expenses, orders, and invoices in the moment. 

Standing in a bamboo field to source your next supplier? Simply pull out your phone and crunch numbers in the app. The bamboo farmer gets paid, and you jump ahead of bamboo flooring demand.

You can automate inventory by connecting order data to product stock in the cloud. This saves you hours and errors of counting inventory by hand. Buyers will see the difference on the shelves.

Customers need up-to-date pricing and availability so they can get to work on their home project.

Keep Everyone in the Loop

Centralized communication apps, like Slack or Discord, are another powerful tool to support customer satisfaction. 

Product updates can reach all employees in a single click. In turn, customers receive correct information about what’s available at what price, with the inventory to back it up. This builds consumer trust in your company.

Consider intercompany channels, the ultimate space for suppliers and retailers to communicate. A request that may have gotten lost in phone-tag or emails can now be found in one spot. It’s all about making communication accessible.

Listen to Your Customers

How often do customer service representatives hear the same complaints? Or the same wishes? 

Perhaps a certain type of laminate sells well, but your customer service center receives a high volume of complaints later. “This laminate catches dust and dirt at the seams.” Soon after, customers are calling on their warranties. 

Imagine if you could solve the problem months ahead in product design.

Through mobile communication, you can. In-app tags and search tools allow customer feedback to be flagged and gathered. These trends can be analyzed to materialize real changes – before the customers and demand wave disappear.

The Virtual Marketplace

At one time, suppliers and retailers relied on trade shows to find each other. Now, you can discover or be discovered by simply scrolling on your phone. 

Apps like VendorPriceBook bring together retailers, suppliers, and brands. Much like a dating app, each business has their own profile with photos and information. Filters allow you to cast a broad or narrow net. And while it might be less romantic than an OkCupid match, sometimes a beautiful vertical alignment is born.

Jump In, Jump Ahead

Floor remodeling customers are a reliable demand stream just waiting for an organized operation to provide the products they desire at competitive prices. Empower your company using mobile technology to tighten the supply chain, wherever you may fall in line.

If you’re not sure where to start, our flooring app contains essential tools to maintain up-to-date inventory and prices. Give it a try for free to see how small tech changes can create big ripples in your business. Our newest features include the ability for retailers to create purchase orders right on the app! VendorPriceBook is truly revolutionizing the way retailers and vendors do business!

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Sources
https://www.gocanvas.com/mobile-forms-apps/46-Retail-Sales-Wholesale-Distribution/show_category

https://www.vendhq.com/retail-apps

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/tradebeyond-the-fastest-growing-retail-sourcing-app-innovates-with-major-retailers-300823455.html

https://www.cbxsoftware.com/solutions/tradebeyond/

https://www.theverge.com/2017/9/12/16291246/slack-shared-channels-frontiers-announcements

https://www.merchantmaverick.com/reviews/quickbooks-online-review/

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/joycemazero/2019/11/05/excellence-in-supply-chain-management-requires-supply-chain-expertise-in-the-boardroom/amp/

Using VendorPriceBook to Find and Connect with Retailers

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FIND NEW CUSTOMERS

Expand Your Retailer Base

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Where would we be without GPS? It helps us find where to eat, where to shop and how to get from point A to point B. GPS locators are everywhere; from our cars to our cell phones. Now, VendorPriceBook is harnessing the power of Google Maps to help you find customers in your area and connect with them on our social network.

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“Having a map feature for Vendors seemed like the logical next step,” says VendorPriceBook founder and CEO Charlie Mirzakhanyan. “It’s the easiest way for Vendors to find and connect with Retailers in their area as well as find new Retailers across the country.”

“We’re always improving our features for Vendors and Retailers,” continues Mirzakhanyan. “This map feature is directly inspired by feedback we’ve received from clients who wanted an easier, more intuitive way to connect with other flooring businesses. We’re excited about the future of VendorPriceBook and hope you find these new features useful.”

VendorPriceBook’s new map feature allows Vendors to search by ZIP code, destination, city, state and keywords. “This feature is very exciting,” concludes Mirzakhanyan. “It will change the way Vendors obtain and maintain new and existing Retailers. This is a game changer.”

HOW TO CONNECT WITH NEW CUSTOMERS USING THE MAP FEATURE

Step 1) Log in to your VendorPriceBook account.

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Step 2) Click on the ‘Find New Connections’ button.

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Step 3) Search by ZIP code, destination, city, state, or keyword.

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Step 4) Choose the retailers you want to connect with and click on the ‘Connect’ button. In addition, if you are on the road and need directions, click on ‘Direction.’

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Step 5) After clicking ‘Connect’, assign a pricebook/catalog, sales agent, location and documents. Click ‘Submit’ to send a connection request.

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After the retailer accepts your connection request, a virtual connection will be established between you and the retailer. They will be able to see your entire product line and access the information you have provided to them (e.g. pricebooks, catalogs, documents and announcements). They can use the search box to search for products as well as download your pricelist.

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Having a virtual connection with Retailers gives you the ability to instantly provide them with up-to-date pricing, information, announcements, and increase engagement with your company and product.

Go beyond product photos: provide consumers with complete remodeling ideas and inspirations.

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Click to Join and Connect with Thousands of Retailers and Vendors

Is Your Stone & Tile Store Stuck In The Stone Age? Evolve with VendorPriceBook!

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In a new study released by Floor Trends Magazine, researchers found that only half of tile & stone companies use the Internet to promote their businesses. In this rapidly growing technological climate, that seems like a shockingly low number. Fully 48% of tile & stone retailers and vendors are missing out on the benefits of promoting their companies via websites, blogs, and social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn. What is holding them back?

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We here at VendorPriceBook understand the frustrations of doing business online. One of the biggest problems is that retailers have to go to multiple vendors’ websites and log in with different passwords to access their pricing and company information. On top of this, most companies also do business by phone, fax, email, and hard copy pricebooks. If a retailer has fifty vendors, this process can get quite complicated, not to mention time-consuming and frustrating. Until now, there hasn’t been a centralized database for all your pricing in one convenient location. That’s where VendorPriceBook.com comes in.

VendorPriceBook aggregates vendors’ pricing into a single website, allowing retailers to access pricing and company information with a single click of the mouse. But we’re more than just a directory for pricing–we’re a growing community of professionals, committed to connecting vendors and retailers in social sharing and communication. Think of us as a combination of LinkedIn and Facebook for the flooring industry.

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We believe communication is key to developing business relationships, strengthening trust and building partnerships between retailers and vendors. If that sounds like something you believe in too, check us out at VendorPriceBook.com to see how we can help grow your stone, tile, carpet or hardwood business and promote communication within the flooring industry.

Find VendorPriceBook on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+

Software vs The Cloud: How Cloud Computing is Revolutionizing the Flooring Industry

Many floor coverings businesses currently use software to handle their pricing and inventory. Most software programs seek to get businesses online and ease business-to-business (B2B) communications. These are admirable goals, to be sure, however, many problems can be solved by new and emerging technologies that move internal software systems into the cloud.

Cloud computing eliminates the need for internal systems like data storage and software. All services in the “cloud” are accessible anywhere there is an internet connection.

VendorPriceBook is a cloud-based tool. Now, to access pricing and inventory information, there’s no downloading, no memory or software required. With VendorPriceBook, all your business operations are accessible online.

You can take your job on the go with smartphones, tablets and laptops. You can take your retail showroom mobile, connect with new customers instantly and provide customer service updates.

While software programs are great when it comes to inventory control and organizing internal systems; they lack the ability to improve communication between Vendors and Retailers. With the pace of technology moving more quickly than ever, cloud-based computing is rapidly becoming the industry standard for doing business.

VendorPriceBook is more than just a business tool, it’s building an online community. By connecting companies in the cloud, we can increase accessibility, streamline communication and create meaningful B2B relationships that help grow and maintain your business for the future.