April 13/20, 2015; Volume 29/Number 1
By John Weller
I have no doubt that everyone who is reading this is familiar with what has transpired in the last month regarding Lumber Liquidators. The nation’s largest retailer of laminate and hardwood flooring has become the most talked about flooring company maybe of all time. The cumulative effect of this is still unknown.
What is clear is that tens of millions of consumers are now aware that not all flooring products, nor flooring retailers, are equal or to be trusted. The longer this story stays in the news, more of the general population will become aware of the issues with Lumber Liquidators’ products, and the better it will be for the remainder of the industry. As the saying goes, “All publicity is good publicity.”
There may never be an opportunity like this again where there is so much focus on flooring in the national press. This news story was first brought to light by “60 Minutes” on March 1 and is now being covered by every news outlet and financial network on the planet. It has the potential to cause a major shift in a person’s perspective about buying flooring forever.
The top quality manufacturers are in a nice position today to tout the benefits of their brands while gaining market share. In addition, they will sell better goods to retailers who are passing their stories and products on to the consumers who visit their stores and their websites.
However, the independent flooring retailer has the best opportunity of them all as not just the local flooring store, but a friend and neighbor to all the newly aware consumers who are looking for a flooring expert to trust.
What this means for digital
The digital retail landscape that is being fueled by the exploding percentage of tech savvy consumers, as well as Google’s new updates, add even more good news for independent flooring retailers as shoppers will be spending more time researching their options online.
In 2013 Pew Research Center reported more than 61% of Americans owned a smartphone and Apple has added to that, selling an average of 30,000 iPhones per hour in the fourth quarter of 2014. The same devices that are now predominantly giving us the news are also what we are using to research and learn about the products we are going to buy.
Google’s focus on rewarding websites that use the newest mobile technology, making all searches local and its new update that forces local businesses to put 100% unique content on their websites will help the independent flooring retailers who adapt exceptionally well.
If there has ever been a time for the independent flooring retailer to use his efforts upgrading his web presence, it is now.
Dozens of websites and mobile apps from companies such as Yelp, Houzz, HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List have put consumers in the driver’s seat by allowing them to post reviews of local businesses for other consumers to read and make decisions about what to buy and from whom. These sites have skyrocketed in popularity; Yelp alone has 135 million unique views per month. And because these sites feature links to retailers’ websites, they are now driving tons of new traffic to stores.
This chain of events beginning with the “60 Minutes” report and all of the new ways independent flooring retailers can get themselves represented online in relatively inexpensive (but highly effective and professional) ways could give a lot of market share back to those in our industry who rightly deserve it.
John Weller is the vice president of marketing for FloorForce. For more information on how to create a professionally designed website, visit www.floorforce.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.