CCA looks to ‘right-size’ its programs: For Carpet One, leveraging core suppliers has benefits

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August 6/13, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 4

By Lindsay Baillie

Montreal, Canada—Carpet One Floor & Home retailers assembled at the Palais des congrès de Montréal here last month for the group’s summer convention. Over the course of the two-day conference, members gleaned valuable insights from guest speakers and took advantage of networking opportunities. Members were also treated to the new, scaled-back C1XPO exhibit hall which tied into the convention’s theme, C1 Xperience (C1X).

A major focus at C1X was the importance of selling core products. To that end, the exhibit hall, which was smaller than usual, featured only displays from Carpet One’s core products. The convention also explored Destination: Carpet One—the updated concept for member showrooms, which includes an inviting welcome desk, more open space and features core products.

Part of the concept for Destination: Carpet One is the idea that “less is more,” according to Eric Demaree, president, Carpet One Floor & Home. “Owners have to stop merchandising their stores for the reps that call on them and instead start merchandising for the consumers they’re serving.”

With that in mind, Carpet One developed Destination as the ultimate place for consumers to shop for flooring and home products. “The visual elements [in Destination] are unbelievable,” Demaree explained. “The second thing that’s incredible is the way you can orient yourself as a consumer because of the way things are positioned and merchandised.”

In addition to the showroom’s aesthetics, members with Destination showrooms must go through extensive training in the group’s customer-centric selling system. Furthermore, they have to commit to ongoing operational standards and agree to participate in mystery shopping exercises.

The new exhibit hall format was met with mixed reviews from members and manufacturers in attendance. “I like that the summer convention shrunk, but it wouldn’t work for the winter convention,” said Steve Sevilla, manager, Sunset Carpet One Floor & Home, El Segundo, Calif. As for adopting a Destination showroom, he sees the benefits. “Destination: Carpet One is something I did years ago,” Sevilla added. “It’s a good thing.”

Alex Markarian, chief operating officer, Carpeteria Carpet One, San Diego, Calif., echoed Sevilla’s sentiments about the convention, explaining that members want to see more product in the winter. With respect to the Destination concept, he said it’s very valuable. “It’s important to focus on the core.”

Bud Frederick of Family Carpet One, Williamstown, W. Va., sees great value in only showing core displays. In fact, Family Carpet One has updated all of its stores to Destination showrooms and is seeing success. “I’d rather have just the core, that’s where our money is generated,” he told FCNews. “Why not sell core?”

Some manufacturers saw the new space as a challenge because representatives were spaced out among three separate zones—the Canada area, the selling section in the back of the hall and the display area at the front of the exhibit. Vendors that are more brand driven also found the summer exhibit to be difficult. “Even though it says ‘by Daltile,’ you don’t have your branded space where you can bring your whole brand story to the customer,” said Paij Thorn-Brooks, vice president of marketing, Dal-Tile. “But on the flip side, I see a lot of comfort in the members when they come to this [core] area. They seem less intimidated, and that’s a big positive to them and us.”

Other vendor executives, including Steve Sieracki, vice president residential sales, Shaw Floors, agree that this format is only suitable for the summer convention. “It’s the right way to go because it really narrows down what you have to bring out here. You can focus on your core products specifically with the members.”

Dan Natkin, vice president – hardwood and laminate, Mannington, also sees a benefit to the varied format. “We designed these brands to work in synergy with our brand and their branding,” he explained. “For us, there’s a plus. It focuses on a narrower set that benefits the members. Then there’s our regularly branded products in the back, and it’s up to the members to choose what they want to do.”

New in digital

On the digital front, Carpet One members were introduced to a host of programs to assist with lead generation and enter the e-commerce space. The group is also looking into various enhancements to its website.

“Our goal is to bring qualified leads to our stores through every manner possible,” Demaree explained. “On the marketing side, we have everything covered. The next phase is enhancements to the website. We will significantly increase our video library. We’re already plowing through hundreds of videos that we will systematically put online.”

Demaree said the group also understands the importance of entering e-commerce. “We finally found the right application that we’ll roll out as we bolt it onto,” he said. “That will get us started in e-commerce, which we already have a very detailed strategy on making it more robust across multiple categories.”

Members are looking forward to the new launches. “We’ve been in the business a long time—and for a retailer without the support of Carpet One, it’s very challenging to compete,” Carpeteria Carpet One’s Markarian said. “We’ve always wanted to get into e-commerce, but it’s very challenging to build a platform and do it all yourself.”

Markarian is not alone. Sunset Carpet One’s Sevilla described Carpet One’s new programs for lead generation and e-commerce as “win-wins” for members.

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