Back to the Office: What Flooring Retailers Should Focus On

COVID-19 has facilitated sudden and unparalleled changes to both consumers and retailers alike. There has been a global shift in everyone’s daily lives and happiness, starting with safety protocols like wearing masks, social distancing, and not leaving the house if feeling ill. 

As the world starts to reopen, flooring retailers can expect a reengagement with new and loyal customers. Although priorities may have shifted, old safety protocols like curbside service may never drop. Consumer spending habits may have changed, as well.

The Importance of an Attractive and Comfortable Home After COVID

It’s not outrageous to suggest that, for many, priorities have shifted. As we look around and reconnect with friends and family we haven’t seen in over a year, we start getting a sense of shifted priorities. Health, family, and home have skyrocketed to the top of the priority list.

For example, millions of Americans started working remotely in their own homes. Many now realize that much of their job can be done from home. According to a Pew Research Center survey, over half do not want to return to the office after the pandemic.

Before, people would be gone from their homes for eight to 10 hours per day: working and school. Throughout the pandemic, the need for a multipurpose home began to grown. As people shifted from going to bars after work, parties during the weekend, excellent meals at restaurants, and playing at the park, it became apparent that close contact with a few trusted people became more critical. For millions of Americans, a home started meaning much more.

For flooring retailers, this could indicate a sudden growth in interest in beautifying and designing homes.

People are looking to beautify their homes

Online E-Commerce and Curbside Pickup

Retailers may see an increase in contactless BOPIS (buy online, pick-up in-store). According to RetailTouchPoints, 90% of retailers already implement this option by 2021. At the height of COVID, BOPIS orders were over 500 percent, as stated by Kibo Commerce.

Flooring retailers may also expect to continue as much of this trend as possible, especially concerning e-commerce. A survey conducted by Bizrate Insights found that more than 50 percent of customers preferred BOPIS for its convenience and safety.

Flooring retailers may also find that as fulfillment centers and grocery stores rush to execute their customer’s orders, new flooring may be necessary to reduce wear and tear on the joints while reducing the risk of falls under any condition.

Flooring retailers can enhance their customer’s experience with different online options. Tools such as room simulators or visualizer tools, for example, allow consumers to upload a photo of their home and see how it looks with different flooring.

Enhance your customer service: offer online visualization tools

Flooring After the Pandemic

As the world heads into a new chapter, flooring retailers can fulfill a necessity for spaces that require improved ergonomics within brick and mortar to enhance home attractiveness.

Communication is of Utmost Importance in the Flooring Industry

Efficiency is the key in any business, but in the flooring world, we all know that communication can be improved. VendorPriceBook.com allows flooring retails and suppliers instantly connect through chat and enables a seamless way to update pricing and inventory as well as to LOOK these up, too.

Antimicrobial and Antibacterial Flooring Trends

Gone are the days of the “five-second rule.” With a pandemic underway, consumers have become increasingly aware that floors have the potential to be the dirtiest surfaces in the home.

According to a 2020 survey from the American Institute of Architects, low maintenance and synthetic materials are on the rise. Americans have been especially impressed with antibacterial and antimicrobial floor trends and the way certain surfaces are easier to keep clean. As a basic rule of thumb, if a surface is harder to break down and decay over time, it will typically have a harder time creating a breeding ground for germs. Here are a few flooring trends, fueled by a desire for cleanliness, for each area of the home.

Common Areas

According to Forbes magazine, luxury vinyl tiling (LVT) is on the rise in the wake of Coronavirus. This type of floor can be made to look like wood, but is lower maintenance and has more antimicrobial properties. It is also a common trend for homeowners to replace their existing laminate flooring with LVT because laminate is more likely to break down and grow bacteria over time. Overall, LVT has been shown to have a longer lifespan.

Antimicrobial flooring is booming in the wake of safety concerns from the pandemic

The Kitchen

According to Better Homes and Gardens, linoleum is a trendy option for kitchen flooring right now that has both hypoallergenic and antimicrobial properties. They are also easy to clean, making them perfect for a family with toddlers dropping crumbs and cups of milk.

The Home Office

Home offices, which have been 68% more popular as a home feature in the past year according to the American Institute of Architects, are great opportunities for homeowners to try out some antimicrobial surfaces. One type of flooring popping up more frequently is cork, which has been studied as an antimicrobial surface. Plus, it’s soft underfoot, so it could even make a great spot for a standing desk–even for people suffering from joint issues.

The Bathroom

Ceramic tile is also surprisingly helpful in the fight against germs. It’s perfect for a bathroom because steam does not contribute to its breakdown over time. Cleaning solutions also do not harm ceramic, so it’s the perfect surface to be able to clean regularly.

Antimicrobial Additives

Even if a homeowner’s flooring preferences aren’t inherently antimicrobial, the antimicrobial coating/additive industry is booming right now. Companies are finding new ways to add these germ-fighting properties to just about anything: grout, fabrics, plastics, carpeting, and more. Microban is one leading additive; other manufacturers are finding ways to incorporate small amounts of copper (which has known microbial elements) into the make-up of tiles, grouts, and coatings. Copper is also a trend in sinks and other fixtures at the moment for the same reason.

Getting These Products in the Hands of Customers

Since the data shows that the demand for these products is skyrocketing, the best thing home improvement retailers and flooring vendors can do is make these products as widely available as possible. VendorPriceBook can help streamline communication between retailers and vendors, ultimately making it easier to reach the ultimate customer: the homeowner.

Even as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, a focus on a clean, germ-free home will be something that is here to stay. By offering a variety of these products and making the home renovation process more streamlined, vendors and retailers can help get germ-free surfaces into more homes than ever.

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!

terracotta tiles

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.