Dec. 9/16 2013; Volume 27/number 16
By Ken Ryan
The latest mobile apps and websites won’t mean much to independent flooring dealers if their customers can’t benefit from them. That’s the approach Shaw Industries and others take when introducing their latest tools to the market. According to Misty Hodge, director of digital platforms at Shaw, the company’s objective is to always help its dealers reach new customers through technological advances such as Shaw’s Web Studio.
“Since 95% of shopping now starts online, it is important for all retail businesses to have a presence there,” Hodge said. “[Shaw Web Studio] helps our dealers find, reach and deliver leads, which enables Shaw to strengthen connections with dealers by meeting their customers’ needs. The mobile site helps these businesses be everywhere consumers are.”
Hodge said that according to her reports, Shaw dealers have seen a rise in traffic as a result of Web Studio. “It is not uncommon for a dealer’s business to increase 50% after launching a Shaw Web Studio site,” she said. “One of the things we did not anticipate was how dealers would use the mobile site as a showroom tool. Rather than having samples of every product in stock, we now have dealers that use the online catalog as their virtual showrooms.”
Shaw is just one of the latest flooring suppliers to introduce a mobile-friendly innovation to the market. Karndean Designflooring’s new app allows users to change their surroundings and view room scenes with different Karndean products installed.
“By allowing consumers to see how our floors will match existing design elements, like cabinets and furniture, in their rooms, we can instantly give them a much better idea of how the finished spaces will look than if we were to simply offer them small samples,” said Andrew Hanno, marketing program coordinator at Karndean. “Our entire product portfolio is included so our users are able to see how they can use any of our colors or textures to try their hand at design and let their own styles shine through.”
Karndean is advertising the new app on its website, which includes a link on how to download the mobile tool and how to use the printable floor marker to more efficiently map a room and place the floor.
“Technology is moving very fast and we feel it is important to do whatever possible to enhance our shoppers’ experiences when it comes to research and decision making,” Hanno said.
As the use of smartphone technology continues to gain traction, Mohawk is another manufacturer striving to meet that growing demand through upgrades to its websit, mohawkflooring.com, which is now completely optimized for mobile use. “The site redesign was geared for consumers on the go and directs visitors to Mohawk retailers,” said Kent Clauson, vice president of brand. “The mobile experience allows consumers to view our rotating brand messages as well as search the product catalog in mere seconds.”
Mohawk was one of the first commercial flooring brands to launch a customized iPad app, which enables designers and architects to search Mohawk’s commercial product catalog on-demand, order samples and email ideas to colleagues and clients.
“Enhancements and updates are regularly implemented, and the tool has been extremely well received by both customers and salespeople,” Clauson said.
As opposed to those apps which allow users to design new floors, Carpet One Floor & Home’s new Stain First Aid app, which is available for iPhone, iPad, Android phones and tablets, features more than 50 stains and steps on how to remove them. Users are provided detailed instructions—and for some more common stains, videos—to help them properly clean affected areas. Terri Daniels, spokesperson for CCA Group, the umbrella organization under which Carpet One operates, said, “It is important for us to go beyond selling beautiful floors to our customers. We want them to feel that we’ve helped them create beautiful homes.” Daniels recommends customers download the app before stains occur.
Joining the mobile trend, tradeshow group organizer Hanley Wood is launching a new mobile app for The International Surface Event 2014, set to take place Jan. 27-30. The Event mobile app covers all three shows that are within the mega-event, and can be found by searching “Inter-national Surface Event” in the Apple App Store, Google Play, or Blackberry World.
“The Event mobile app is a very functional tool for accessing records, maximizing the show floor experience, and helping to easily schedule time,” said Amie Gilmore, associate show director, Surfaces | StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas | TileExpo.
Users can also register for The International Surface Event from their devices, access the floor plan and search the exhibitor list, education sessions and events taking place at the three shows. Hotel reservations and information on local restaurants and attractions can also be found using the app.