As floor covering retailers, we sometimes think we’re beating the competition by doing one better—be it price or product selection. However, the key to being competitive and winning market share over the long haul is to change the game entirely. In other words, you need to act as opposed to react. For instance, let’s say the competition has a 1-year warranty on labor; you decide to raise the ante and offer a 5-year warranty. The “act” would be to create an amazing, “white glove” experience that blows everyone out of the water.
In today’s evolving retail environment, things are constantly changing. As a result, you must be prepared to go to the next level. Following are some pointers to help you get closer to the customer.
1. Overcome Zoom fatigue and create an audio social network. Catch your customer with a podcast or recording before they get to you and answer their first question, “How do I shop for flooring?” Facebook is in the early stages of experiments with audio features, but Clubhouse is out there now.
2. Target the older buyers. The pandemic is propelling brands to take a new look at this age group. This demographic is working or living longer, is seriously more health conscious and is looking to make their lives at home more comfortable. Do not talk about aging in place or elderly; marketers are talking about another phase of living. IKEA, for example, has added another line of furniture for people with compromised capabilities. How about a blog or audio conversations about slip-resistant flooring or flooring that’s super easy to clean? Promote your installers’ skills in creating smooth transitions from room to room to prevent tripping.
3. Become experts in sustainability and indoor air quality. Research shows consumers are spending more time in their homes; unfortunately, some are having problems breathing due to poor ventilation or increased usage of chemicals and aerosols designed to combat the coronavirus. Look for products and campaigns that talk about indoor air quality and sustainability.
4. Look for opportunities outside the home. Consumers are looking for new ways to enjoy their homes, get fresh air and expand living space outdoors. How about adding outdoor rugs, patio furniture, barbecue pits and even lighting? Market your store specialist or designer to create a theme for your backyard. It will make great posts for social media. Create a seminar about bringing the “outside in.”
5. Consider offering shop-at-home services. Concerns about safety and cleanliness are going to persist for a long time. The safest way for the consumer is to shop in the convenience and comfort of their own home. I would get as much information over the phone, including payment, talk about sanitizing the samples and making one trip before the installation. Better yet, consider expanding into flooring maintenance (hard and soft surface) as well as carpet cleaning services. Build a campaign around the “Safe Way to Shop” before your competitors get to it. It’s also a great way to generate repeat business.
These are just a few ways to not only help you build a greater rapport with customers, but also get them back into your store for future purchases. In my next column, I will offer more tips on how retailers can adapt in a changing retail environment.