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.

Customer Service: Back to Basics

With limited capacity laws implemented into stores, retailers have had to find different ways to retain people’s satisfaction and interest. Walking into a shopping center or retail department with complete comfortability has become difficult, and the convenience of shopping online contradicts the risk of physically buying products at the storefront. Flooring retailers have seen a huge shift for themselves since the beginning of 2020, as the pandemic hurdled product price increases, decreased revenue for supply and stifled buyer uncertainty within the industry as a whole. However by the end of 2020 home interior design started to become more profitable, and  CEO of Kenneth L. Mink & Song and manager of Macy’s Fine Rug Gallery, David Mink confirms that his rug business is seeing increase in profit, and says that “With more and more people working and spending time at home, the more they are spending on their home. This is a benefit to the rug business.” Since the end of last year, many changes have been made to store’s and online flooring retailers. 

Simple at Storefront

The most obvious trend for revitalizing customer service has put pressure on businesses to make their customer experience more streamline. Jim Mckay, vice president of sales for Great Floors, has limited the amount of manufacturers promoted in his store during lockdown, reevaluating the 40 hard-wood flooring planks displayed in his showroom by saying  “This is just ridiculous. We can’t even tell the difference between all these things. How’s a customer going to do that?” Macay says that “We have big stores, and it’s really easy for a customer to walk in that front door and be overwhelmed. So we’ve tried to simplify it,” aiming to limit manufacturer brands to create a streamlined store experience. Darren Braunstire, VP of Worldwide Wholesale Floor Coverings, explains how he separated wire brushed and smooth wood options into different sectors within the hardwood section, and how specifications are placed behind the tiles to keep from distracting the  main displays; Methodology like this amplifies customer experience through simplifying advertising tactics, while still keeping standard manufacturer promotion. 

Managing Online

In a 2020 analysis, more than 75% of consumers polled online services more engaging than storefront sales for their basic needs, like banking, food/restaurant shopping and video calls for emotional human support. This integration toward digital solutions has helped retailers promote products during social distancing. Director of U.S sales at Mercier’s, Wade Bondrowski, has expressed how social media presence has sustained communication and customer personalization, as data within these apps integrate products with customer interest. Keeping sales face to face, Adam Ward senior project manager at Mohawk, reveals that virtual conferencing has become a daily occurrence between staff members to ensure constant team collaboration, and Hallmark, a manufacturing company, reports that their increase in “real time responses,” online has kept connection between customers and specialty retailers. Omni-channel is a new culmination of all online promotion platforms into one source, which Dan Foskett, CEO at Flooring Superstore, has utilized to great extents. Foskett reports that his sales have grown 142% since 2020, with floor sample requests increasing by 172% and web sessions by 99%. 

COVID has shown the advantage of multi-channel digital sources ledwaying the path toward future customer experience, and the stresses within the flooring industry has produced creative solutions to a seemingly impossible situation. With coordination on both fronts, flooring retailers are reaching the highest global revenue levels since 2013, and have started out the first quarter of 2021 strong. 

It goes without saying that even with great customer service, you also need efficient processes in order to achieve that. With VendorPriceBook, communication between vendors and retailers is streamlined so that there are minimal delays. Quick service equals happier customers. From getting pricing for inventory, to making purchase orders—everything is done quickly on a cloud-based application that VendorPriceBook provides.

And it’s not all about communication—VendorPriceBook members can easily send announcements and promotions to retailers. It’s really a symbiotic tool that helps businesses on both sides make the most out of their relationship!

Learn more about VendorPriceBook today.