How Can Flooring Manufacturers Become Omnichannel?



COVID-19 has turned the world upside down for most of us. Who would have guessed at the beginning of 2020 that in just a few months, we’d be in the middle of a world-wide pandemic? One thing is certain, this virus has completely changed the way business operates.


Companies are scrambling to make sense of the new business environment and keep their businesses running. COVID-19 has changed everything, shutting down production, disrupting the supply chain, interrupting retail and banking operations, and forcing many of us to work from home. To survive this, businesses need to be creative and resourceful. That means embracing new ways of doing business that may be completely different from what you’ve done before.


That doesn’t mean our old ways of operating are completely gone. As soon as the virus is under control and we’re able to safely do so, we’ll be able to resume many of our normal activities. But keep in mind, a lot of the changes we’ve seen in the past few months will probably continue, and we’re looking at a new “normal” in business.



A New Way of Doing Business


B2B buyers have embraced the new online structure of buying. The face of the workplace was already changing, with Baby Boomers and Gen X in the process of retiring. Mass layoffs and furloughs have reduced older workers’ numbers even further. Going forward, the new workforce is more likely to be made up of younger Millennials and Gen Z. These generations are completely comfortable shopping online, and will continue to do so, even at work. No matter what industry you’re in, to stay successful you must adapt and change, and be able to offer what the customers want. For flooring manufacturers, omnichannel retailing is the way to go.


What is omnichannel retailing? It’s connecting with and selling your products to customers in several different spaces that integrate and work together.


Businesses that practice omnichannel retailing give customers the option to shop where and when they want, with the ability to start the buying process in one channel and finish in another. As an example, a customer may begin by researching online and finishing the purchase by talking to a sales rep. Or the opposite may occur—the customer may start by talking to someone from your company, but actually complete the purchase online.



Why Flooring Manufacturers Should Embrace Omnichannel Retailing


There are several reasons flooring manufacturers should expand into more retail channels. Here’s what you have to gain.


1. Reach more customers – having more retail channels gives you more avenues to display and sell your flooring products. You can reach more territories and build relationships with new partners, and get your flooring in front of more customers than ever before. An online presence reaches more consumers, property owners, contractors, architects, and designers, who can learn about your flooring products and request them through their buying channels.


2. Create customer loyalty – when you offer what the customer wants, like the flexibility and convenience of online shopping, you build loyalty.


3. More options in your business – offering additional services, like private labeling and dropshipping, will give you more flexibility in your business, without disrupting your current distribution channels. That leads to better margins and higher revenue, while still maintaining your current business relationships.



5 Fast Ways to Expand Your Retail Channels


We didn’t have a lot of time to get ready for the pandemic, the current business environment and the resulting slowdown in business. But there are things you can do now that will help you with omnichannel retailing. They won’t take a lot of time, and won’t cost you a fortune to set up.


1. Work with an online dealer. Sell your flooring products through an online dealer, like Vogueboard, to get them into a larger marketplace. Dealers represent many different suppliers and manufacturers and have a lot of choices, which attracts a lot of buyers. Customers like that they can browse a wide variety of flooring materials at good prices. The online dealer handles all the details of the sale, including the purchase, shipping details, payments, and customer service.


2. Have an eCommerce storefront. An online store will get your products in front of customers that might not normally see them, as well as exposing your products to new distributors and territories you might not have sold to before. To avoid trade channel conflicts, manufacturers can start selling direct under a different brand name, also called private labeling.


3. Work with retailers to dropship products. Dropshipping can add value to your existing retailer relationships, and help you develop relationships with new trade partners. The traditional dropshipping model is where a retailer buys your product, sells it to another customer, and then you or your wholesaler ship it to their customer. This benefits you by providing an additional revenue stream without a lot of extra work, since the retailer who buys directly from you does the work with securing and serving the retail customer, while cutting the storage costs.


4. Help your partners with private labeling. You provide the product, and your partners create and market a new brand for your existing flooring products. You don’t have to do anything different other than put a different label on the product and ship it. This “new” product on the market becomes another revenue stream for you, with very little work on your end.


5. Market flooring products to your email list. During these unusual business times, keeping the lines of communication open with customers is essential. Keep your existing customers informed about products and supply, and reach out to new customers, by emailing them with the help of a robust customer relationship management tool (CRM). While most CRMs have expensive subscriptions, the Vogueboard CRM is a reasonable price and is integrated into our online flooring tool platform.



Vogueboard Has Solutions For You


This is a difficult time for all businesses. If you need assistance with setting up your online retail channels, we’re here to help.


Our cloud-based platform is designed specifically for the flooring industry. It has everything you need, and is easy to set up and get going quickly. It will help you reach more customers and continue to serve your existing ones. We’re also an online dealer, so we can buy product from you and resell through our online marketplace.


Schedule your free live demo today to find out the solutions we can offer you.