Thursday, January 7, 2010

Flooring and the Internet - Now I’m a Believer

David WoottonI am certain I am not the only baby boomer who only fairly recently discovered the world of the Internet. Having since turned into a true believer of its benefits, I also believe that more and more people of my generation will use it to research floor covering products prior to visiting bricks and mortar showrooms.

Since birth I have been classified as part of the “baby boomer generation." This generation has always been an important demographic especially now that we are “older boomers” and are (or were before the economic disasters of ‘08 and ‘09) at the peak of our spending power -making decisions about where and how we want to live and how we allocate funds to these decisions.

Something we baby boomers have navigated through the past 50 years is the "technology revolution.” I didn't grow up with a laptop on my nightstand. The first computers were the size of a house. Today, all the information we need can be carried in a small hand held device with access to the Internet where we can find everything we need to know about anything - except perhaps the “meaning of life” and even then there are sites that profess to know this.

For pretty much all of my life I have been “technophobic” - avoiding any new electronic device and technology I could, preferring instead to rely upon my “executive assistant” to help with correspondence, arrange my calendar, flights, hotels, restaurant reservations, etc.

My forced introduction to technology came in 1999 when I was appointed President of Columbia Flooring. On my first day, I was handed a lap top computer and given an e-mail address and a 30-minute introduction on how to use it. Welcome to e-mail! This was a truly life changing experience.

Over the next 10 years I became a little more adventurous with forays into the world of the Internet to research companies, financial information and of course to follow the daily happenings in our industry via electronic media like Floor Focus and and Talk Floor. Then the beginning of 2009 brought a major change in my life. Retirement (apart from my involvement with the Floor Covering Institute, of course).

Suddenly I found myself technically alone; no MIS department to call and no assistant to arrange flights and hotels. My wife and I began spending more time away from home which brought the additional complications of paying bills, tracking investments, flight details, etc. I had no option but to learn to rely on my lap top and the Internet. I had to make myself more computer savvy - something I never thought possible. I didn’t realize how straightforward it would be, given time and patience, -things I didn’t have so much of in the past.

Over the past 12 months I have discovered Internet banking. I book flights, hotels and restaurants on line and research lots of “stuff” on the Internet.

Now, if you are still reading this you are probably wondering “where is all this leading?”

Last summer we decided to remodel a bathroom in our house in England. We spend most of our time in Atlanta which meant communicating with a contractor who was 4,000 miles away. How could we discuss the project and research the materials needed? The answer of course was the Internet. We were able to choose from literally hundreds of options from bidets to baths, to sinks and shower heads, wall and floor tiles and even ceiling lights. We even agreed on specifications with the contractor without ever meeting him. (We did of course check all his references!)

At the same time I took the opportunity to research floor coverings and discovered a myriad of information available from all segments of the industry. So finally, here is my point:

I began this blog post by talking about the baby boomer generation and the important demographic they represent. I am certain that among my generation my latent Internet savvy is not unique nor is my belief that more of my generation will use it to research products prior to visiting bricks and mortar showrooms.

This represents a huge opportunity for manufacturers, distributors, retailers and contractors to attract a new audience so it is vitally important to ensure your websites are current, user friendly and very informative. I believe consumers are more interested in the product information than any discount offers.

For more information about this subject visit Simple Marketing Now and see what my Floor Covering Institute colleague and social media expert, Christine Whittemore, says about this and other ways to use today’s technology to improve your selling opportunities.

To those of you in the industry who are not computer savvy, if an old dog like me can learn new tricks please give it a try and you will find a bright, new world out there.

The Monkeys sang “Now I’m a Believer” and I truly am. How about you? I would love to hear what you think and as always if you have, thanks for reading this.



  1. David, I am delighted that you've taken a deep dive into the Internet and discoverd the value it offers. My father [now almost 91] taught me about online banking and tax submissions, and he learned about computers at age 70. So you are absolutely right to remind us NOT to underestimate our consumers and their ability, willingness and desire to learn more via the net.

    Thanks for this post, and for your comments about me.

    Happy 2010!

  2. We have just finished upgrading our website and have added Face book and a blog. What a difference! I am getting requests via our website for measurements..and that means one thing..more business. I am hopeful that this will continue and even grow.

    Troy Aeby
    Duralum Carpets Inc.