by Steven Feldman
It’s not every day that I learn something. It’s even more rare when I learn two things in one day. And when I learn something that can help Floor Covering News readers, we are all better for it.
That alone makes this a column to which you should pay attention. I am writing about two things of which you need to be aware: They have little to do with each other and everything to do with each other.
Let’s start with FloorForce (see article on page 1), a company I visited in Florida earlier this month. CliffsNotes version: This is a company that builds websites. Just like other technology companies do. But pay attention to FloorForce. Why? Because it can help your business. It can even keep you in business.
You don’t need me to tell you most consumers begin their search for flooring on the web. You also don’t need me to tell you that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. From those two statements is derived these two: If you do not have a web presence, odds are you will have no physical presence within a short period of time. If you have a poor web presence, odds are you will have no physical presence within a short period of time.
FloorForce understands your website is your virtual front door. FloorForce also understands more customers are visiting your virtual front door than your physical front door. And FloorForce understands the importance of converting web traffic to physical traffic. It understands this because it spent the better part of two years with a business model that centered on creating a 3-D, in-store experience. Then it learned that retailers can do just fine, thank you, once that consumer is in the store. Retailers need help getting customers in the store.
So it morphed into a website developer. But that’s only part of the deal. The company understands that having the best website in the world means nothing if you’re on page 28 of Google. You know what they say about the tree that falls in the forest? 87% of people never get past page one of their Google searches. So, FloorForce works its magic and within a month the retailer will find himself on page one of Google in his market for the most relevant flooring keywords.
Now here’s part two of the story of why retailers must be serious about their web presence. You’ve heard of Lumber Liquidators, Home Depot, Empire and so forth. Ever hear of wayfair.com? Thought so. When you are done reading this column, I want you to visit wayfair.com. At first glance, it sells furniture, bedding, etc. Big deal, right? Yes. Literally. Wayfair.com is the country’s largest furniture e-tailer, doing about $450 million a year. Ten years ago, not one manufacturer wanted to sell them. Today, just about every manufacturer is knocking down their door.
Now, when you get on the site, click the little box that says “home improvement.” What do we have here? Lighting, generators, appliances, mailboxes and—what a surprise—flooring. What do you see? Every type of flooring that exists. Now look at all your friendly neighborhood manufacturers that are selling them. If they are close to being as successful with flooring as they are with furniture, more manufacturers will jump on board. I don’t know about the pricing; that’s for you to determine. But I do know this: Many flooring consumers believe they are getting low prices from Empire.
When a consumer searches on the Internet for flooring, you don’t want Wayfair to be on page one and you on page 28. You don’t want anyone talking about you in the past tense.