How many waterproof lines are enough?

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By K.J. Quinn

For consumers looking to purchase waterproof WPC or rigid flooring, the number of choices can be daunting. While some dealers think the less-is-more approach works, others believe in offering as many choices as possible. Despite having varying numbers of brands, all dealers agree that each offering should have something—color, texture, construction, etc.—that makes it stand out in the crowd.

Following is an overview of the different approaches.

Less is more

Some retailers believe about five waterproof lines are enough to help consumers make an education decision.

Carpetland USA of Rockford, Ill., carries five waterproof resilient brands and suggested dealers showcase between three to five brands—just enough to give the customer options. “The customer is much more educated today than she was in the past,” explained Kevin Rose, president. “They want options and value, and you need to show them you are not aligned with any one particular brand.”

For Harrisburg Wall & Floor, Harrisburg, Pa., carrying multiple lines from one manufacturer can be beneficial. The store currently carries five lines—three of which are from the same manufacturer. “Normally, we buy from quality and relationship,” explained Brett Bentz, president. “We are a Mohawk Color Center, so three of our lines are aligned with the Mohawk program. Limiting the number of lines also helps on the freight, shipping, all the extra costs. You can combine truckloads when they’re from the same manufacturer.”

Bentz added that three brands is enough for the average dealer. “If you have too many you can confuse the consumer way too quick. It’s harder for a person to make a decision when there are too many choices. Within each line you probably have 40 decisions, 40 colors. Multiply that by three that’s over 120 choices.”

Eric Langan, owner, Carpetland USA (The Langan Group), Davenport, Iowa, thinks six suppliers/brands in waterproof resilient should offer enough good, better and best options for the consumer. “Bringing on much more than that will confuse the customer and clutter your showroom,” he said.

Langan’s store currently carries seven waterproof resilient lines, most of which are from the retailer’s core suppliers. “I partner with the suppliers that have a proven history of good pricing, excellent service and consistent inventory,” he said.

Mary Ann Gore, office manager at Chattanooga Flooring Center, Chattanooga, Tenn., explained that while her store has at least 10 waterproof resilient brands, she feels the ideal number to carry is closer to five. “We have noticed that when customers are offered too many options, they become overwhelmed. Also, the patterns tend to be repetitive across the brands.”

More is better

Chattanooga Flooring Center in Tennessee displays several prominent waterproof brands in its store.

For Akron, Ohio-based Barrington Carpet, waterproof flooring is its largest category in hard surface. According to Craig Phillips, the company’s president, the retailer stocks about 40 SKUs in waterproof and displays more than 20 different lines from all of its key suppliers.

“All other hard surface categories combined do not come close to matching our square footage sales in waterproof,” Phillips said. “It seems that we can’t get enough.” Phillips explained that it is a struggle to find the ideal number of brands to show. However, for his store “it seems our customers love the variety and range we show,” he said.

Big Bob’s Flooring Outlet in Yuma, Ariz., also shows upwards of 20 lines of waterproof flooring. “We are constantly removing old technology and introducing new and improved products in our showroom,” explained Josh Penny, president. “This category will continue to gain more space in our show- room as long as the consumer supports and demands waterproof in their homes.”

Penny said the store initially sold only five or six waterproof lines. However, the customers asked for a larger selection. “We are fortunate enough to have the showroom space to effectively display a wide variety of options in this category,” he added. “Today’s consumer has invested a lot of time researching waterproof flooring. We must be able to provide a wide variety of products to give them the confidence that they have seen the ‘latest and greatest’ and that we can provide them with the best selection of flooring for their home.”

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July 27, 2020

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