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The old adage was location, location, location to reach the consumer.Now it is logistics, logistics, logistics.Competitors with the best e-commerce strategy will be the winners whether they sell food, flowers, or flooring.Flooring manufacturers, distributors, and retailers are adding e-commerce capabilities on their websites and expanded delivery options to meet consumer expectations. Home Depot added a mobile app enabled store navigator so customers can locate products, check inventory, and expedite the online ordering process. The app provides store-specific maps, which allows customers to pinpoint the exact location of an item on their mobile device. In addition, Home Depot installed self-service lockers at the front entrance to offer the convenient pickup of online orders.Lowe’s is giving customers the ability to schedule a delivery in a narrow time frame.The company is also strengthening their ability to sell to professionals by adding business-to-business capabilities at its lowe…
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At Surfaces 2020, I noticed the vendors were cautious while the attendees were optimistic.  Our March issue of the Floor Coverings Quarterly Updatehas pointed to a reason why.  Manufacturer floor coverings sales were weak throughout 2019 due to the housing recession from mid-2018 to mid-2019 as the Federal Reserve raised interest rates.  Manufacturer sales last year were also hurt by the surge in retail orders in late 2018 to beat the tariff increases on Chinese-made floor coverings.  The result was an accumulation of inventories at the retail level as consumer sales turned sluggish along with the drop in housing demand.However, floor coverings retailers began to gain confidence as housing demand recovered in the second half of 2019 as the Federal Reserve reversed course and lowered interest rates.  By the fourth quarter of 2019, consumer floor coverings spending was accelerating and retail inventories were being worked off.  So, retailers were ready to order once again.By the time re…

Commoditization: the new "C" word in floor covering

Sometimes you write an article that really hits a hot button and the feedback is tremendous.  I've written about commoditization and the threat it poses to the flooring industry before but my most recent article written for Floor Covering News, Commoditization-the Silent Killer, has generated a lot of attention and discussion.  Even Steve Feldman, Floor Covering News publisher, referred to commoditization as the new "c" word "  when he wrote about "everyone and their mother attempting to join the party with their version of click systems."

I wanted to share it with our readers and get your feedback. Here is the article just as it appeared in Floor Covering New's January 21/28 Surfaces issue.
Commoditization-the Silent Killer

I just returned from Domotex 2013 in Germany and am both excited and concerned for the flooring industry.  Excited because of the innovations I saw in every product category and concerned for fear that they will become absorbed in t…

Intelligent merchandising in the floor covering showroom

In a ceramic tile and stone showroom the two biggest challenges for customers are  visualizing how the tile or combination of tiles will look installed in the home and determining which tiles are suitable for their intended application. Figuring out how to address these two challenges should be a priority for every showroom.

Along with that, conveying the features, benefits and limitations of the products is the next challenge. And perhaps the most important piece of the showroom puzzle, is to train sales people so they are knowledgeable and competent showroom consultants (I wrote about this previously on the blog in, How Training and E-learning Can Improve ROI).

Years ago, when I was an importer and distributor with several showrooms I coined the term Intelligent Merchandising to represent the approach we developed to help our customers make selections and our sales people more effective in assisting our customers during the selection process. The challenges we faced back then …

Key issue: commoditization of floor covering products

I believe that commoditization is the key issue facing the flooring industry now. I recently wrote about this threat on the Surfaces blog site and it seems my opinion has struck a chord. Commoditization is a process that transforms the market for unique, branded products into a market based on undifferentiated price competition.

Most people agree that consumers will shop on price alone if they do not learn about performance and quality differences that justify a range of prices. That is happening all through our industry. If we let it continue it could lead to the destruction of our industry as we know it. Do you agree?

Read what I think is causing commoditization in our industry and what we can do about it in Commoditization - The Silent Killer


Jim Gould is President of the Floor Covering Institute

Consider the possibilities: Jump into the global flooring market

Like many of you in the industry, I am just returning from the US floor covering show, Surfaces.  Surfaces followed Domotex, the European floor covering show earlier in January, which I attend every year. While sitting at the Vegas airport and thinking over these last two shows, I remembered the article I wrote recently that appeared in Floor Covering Weekly - Jump into the Global Flooring Market.

I wrote this article after introducing my client, a Korean manufacturer of carpet tile, to several distributors, logistics providers and buyers in the US market. They were well received by those who understood the opportunity in this segment and the advantage of offering something new to their retailers. My client also attended Surfaces and as I reflect on the great reception they received there, I feel it underscores the point of my article...

Participating directly in the global market is a great way for distributors to differentiate themselves and justify their existence. Wholesalers who…

Floor Covering Institute releases research on China's flooring industry, consumers, logistics

FCI has just released its latest research paper: The Growing Opportunity in China, a look at China's economy, consumer market, floor covering demand and logistics channels. Researched and authored by Jim Gould, the paper is the first of its kind to offer an overview of China from the floor covering industry point of view.

Major sections of this industry paper include:
China's rapid economic advancement and the growing consumer market;China's floor covering market;China's retail channel and performance;China's retail flooring channel;The state of China's logistics channel; and Channel options. Here's a look at a few "fast facts" taken from the paper.
Between 1.6 billion and 1.9 billion square meters of new floor space will be needed each year between now and 2025 to accommodate China's urban migration.  This yearly increase is the size of the entire US market. China's floor covering market was 12.8 billion square meters in 2011. China is th…