By Steven Feldman
Stainmaster is not sitting idle while COVID-19 negatively impacts sales of flooring. Understanding that many more consumers are home, on their computer and still shopping, the company has launched the “Select Now Install Later” program for its Stainmaster Flooring Center (SFC) dealers. The idea is to provide assets for retailers to sell flooring even if their brick-and-mortar stores remain closed.
“We were talking about our own business—how we are spending our dollars—and we understand how important our retailers are,” said Chris Fox, manager of specialty retail. “If these dealers aren’t surviving, it doesn’t matter what we do right now. So, the idea is to give them assets and a basic roadmap to continue selling product even when they physically can’t be in their stores.”
Fox noted that Stainmaster has been hearing anecdotally that most flooring dealers are requiring the customer to pay the cost of the materials up front on every sale. “So, if we can provide the tools to facilitate the style selection and measure, and they can get that money up front and schedule the install down the road, you have that customer 100% committed—you’ve just basically closed the sale.”
How the Select Now, Install Later program works: The consumer finds her way onto an SFC website, where a landing page has been set up, which gives the dealer the opportunity to promote Select Now, Install Later. The landing page can appear anywhere on the site, including the home page. RSAs can reach out to customers and direct them to this landing page.
Once the consumer gets to the landing page, she can then be taken to a product catalog page, which may be the SFC’s own product catalog or redirect to the Stainmaster site. There, the consumer can select a style and color, at which point the SFC works with the respective mill to send that specific sample directly to the consumer’s home, free of charge.
Should the consumer choose to purchase flooring now, Stainmaster has provided a measuring tool for easy estimation or budgeting. The consumer can click on the tool to find out how much flooring she will need. The final step is contacting the retailer or RSA to purchase and schedule installation whenever she is ready. What’s more, Stainmaster is backing up the initiative with a 90-day satisfaction promise.
“The SFC might have not the assets, but we do,” said Jenny Wilburn, director of marketing. “Lots of retailers don’t have a catalog or measuring tool; we have it. We want to make sure they can use it.” At the end of the day, the goal is simply to continue driving leads to retailers and making it easy to shop for consumers from home.
Pami Bhullar, director, retail development, North America, and one of this industry’s foremost training experts for retailers and RSAs, noted that this is not shop at home but rather shopping “from” home. “If you can install today, that’s totally fine,” he explained. “The objective here is to continue dialogue with the customer. People still want to connect. We are all in this together, and I believe we will come out of this sooner rather than later.”
Jeff Macco, CEO, Maccos Floor Covering Center, said Stainmaster reached out to him during the conception of the program. “I asked Pami Bhullar if I could start that day and implement; that is how excited I was,” he said. “We see huge value in the Stainmaster brand in our markets and our stores. Stainmaster has taken a lead in these challenging times. Right now, our customers want a consistent, reliable and well-known message. We are very excited to launch the program. It makes incredible sense with changing times.”
Bhullar said not doing anything right now is not an option. “These are unprecedented times, and it has never been a better time to think out of the box and bring innovation to reaching customers. How do we continue working with our customers? Remember, just because they are staying home doesn’t mean they don’t want to shop and buy. They are still looking at floors they’ve been wanting to replace. They still have money. They want to shop from the comfort of their home.”
Wilburn has statistics to back this up. “Searches have not dropped off at all,” she said. “According to our partner reps at Google, consumers are less concerned about their own personal finances than they are about the economy. They plan on shopping now and when this is over. In fact, 67% say they plan to shop the same or more. And the more time we spend at home, the more we have the opportunity to reach these people. We are seeing a great deal of social media and online growth right now and are looking at certain areas of opportunity.”
Wilburn cited a variety of factors. Influencer content through swatches, keywords and targeting are strong. “We are accurately finding the right people in the market for flooring. And we are sending the majority of people to our product pages to look at carpet.”
Stainmaster is also finding success on platforms where people go for inspiration. “Consumers are searching for those things that would make sense for people in our business: living room, bedroom, home office,” she said. “They are sitting at home, looking around and not satisfied with what they have in their homes.” Thus, Wilburn advises retailers that if they are ever considering experimenting, now is the time.
To help retailers promote the Select Now, Install Later program, Stainmaster is providing assets such as social media assets, web banners and additional quarantine-specific content available to the SFCs on Promoboxx.
Bhullar said he believes Stainmaster has an edge over other companies right now because it is the brand the consumer knows and trusts in our industry. “When you have fear of the unknown, you want to buy things you already know,” he explained.
Ian Newton, executive vice president, Flooring 101, said from the time the retailer became an SFC, Stainmaster has never disappointed. “They have always built on this partnership and come up with tools for our success. They have taken the lead once again we are very excited to launch and take full advantage of the program. It makes perfect sense. My marketing team has made this their No.1 priority.”