Carpet: Big business on Main Street, displays and inventory lead the road to success

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Main Street work can be a gray area in segment classifications; not quite residential but not quite large enough for the designated commercial segment. With lagging sales in both, industrious retailers are going after Main Street in hopes of increasing profits and getting in on the economic upswing that pundits have been lauding for the past year.

While carpet is not the leading product in Main Street installations, there is still demand for it, particularly with recent innovations. “Retailers participating in Main Street should capitalize on the positive trends and innovations taking place in carpet tile,” said Chuck McClurg, manager of product, Main Street Commercial, Shaw. “Carpet tile continues to take share from broadloom and is estimated to account for 40% of the total commercial market by year end.”

Carrying carpet in your Main Street department is also a good way to round out a store’s commercial offerings. Mannington Commercial’s customers asked for multiple flooring types that worked together in one space, said Natalie Jones, vice president of commercial brand development and creative product.

“We know that most applications in the real world require more than one flooring type,” she explained. “Our Workplace system allows the retailer and consumer to easily select a coordinating palette for all their flooring needs—not just carpet, but also VCT, wall base, LVT, walk-off entry systems, resilient sheet, etc. Our entire Main Street carpet offering works with all the other products that we bring to market.”

Breadth of selection seems to be the key to unlocking profit. Mohawk’s Aladdin Commercial collection, targeted to Main Street, gives floor covering retailers more than 50 styles in seven constructs and fiber categories, including modular tile.

“The Aladdin Commercial collection has its own 52-sample display plus a collection of architect’s folders so that the product samples can be borrowed and so that products can be readily specified,” said Sam Kuiper, product director, Aladdin Commercial.

Having product on hand immediately is also essential in the Main Street business climate. “For local markets from general contractors to end use customers, the emphasis for Main Street is always about service; having products readily available to ship, deliver and install,” said Steve Arbaugh, vice president, Interface. This has proved to be an element of the success of the Bravo program, launched this spring (FCNews, May 31/June 7).

Stocking Main Street products on your show floor doesn’t mean they will necessarily be sold for commercial functions. They could just as easily be used in residential jobs and carrying light commercial products may attract a larger buying audience to include designers and specifiers. For example, the 2010 HGTV Green Home featured Shaw’s Philadelphia Commercial collection in Capital III because of its recyclable nylon fibers and styling potential (FCNews, July 5/12).

Displaying goods

Philadelphia Commercial is one of two Main Street brands that make up Shaw’s PCQC— Philadelphia Commercial and Queen Commercial. “PCQC provides a comprehensive product offering and long-standing reputation as the commercial source to the dealer distribution channel,” McClurg said. “Our mission is to provide the market with value-driven performance solutions that look great on time. Products and service programs are packaged, coordinated and targeted for ease of use within different end-use markets.”

To help retailers, display and merchandise vehicles are categorized by product category, construction and price, he continued. The flagship commercial display showcases broadloom product ranging from $3 to $18 while the carpet tile display highlights the PCQC carpet tile program. Also, new for November is the Gallery of Patterns display, featuring Shaw’s Main Street applied patterns program with 26 patterns and 115 SKUs.

Without the eye and demand of a designer, it can be tricky to sell commercial carpet to a building manager or office owner, so Mohawk University offers a variety of sales training and installation courses for carpet that includes commercial products. The Aladdin Commercial display system is also designed to help the dealer, with a focus on self education for both the retail sales associate and the consumer, helping guide people to select the best possible product for their floors, Kuiper said. “The display system requires very little floor space and dealers have told us that diversifying their product mix with commercial results in additional overall sales growth.”

Beyond the showroom

In addition to an easy-to-understand display, Mannington went one step further with the Workplace Coordination Box, a hand-held portable box with elements of the Main Street display in travel mode. “It allows retailers to take a wide offering of product out to their Main Street customers,” Jones said. “This also makes it easy for the consumer to view our entire Main Street collection in a real world application: their own environment, their lighting, their other design elements.”

The box is part of the Workplace Coordination System that also includes Workplace Coordination boards, part of the floor display but are portable for transport to a job site, and Workplace Visualization Tool software that allows retailers to play with coordination and color schemes to experiment with different commercial products across all categories.

-Emily Hooper

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