By Reginald Tucker FloorForce, organizers of the FloorCon 2021 conference slated to take place at the Hyatt Regency in Sarasota, Fla., Nov. 17-19., has officially opened registration for the event. The in-person conference, which follows on the success of FloorCon 2020—which was held virtually last year—is being positioned as a celebration of the independent flooring dealer amidst dramatic change in the retail industry.
“At FloorCon we will unveil an all-in-one platform built to change the way that consumers shop and buy floor covering, the way manufacturers feature their products and differentiate their products, and how retailers can provide an elevated consumer experience separates them from their competition,” said John Weller, chief innovation officer of Broadlume, parent company of FloorForce. “All of those things, collectively, will be showcased at FloorCon.”
A key focal point of FloorCon 2021 will be a strong emphasis on helping floor covering retailers further embrace digital marketing strategies, especially as it relates to interacting with consumers early on in the flooring research phase as they shop online for floor covering. While this phenomenon is certainly not new, the trend has accelerated as a result of shifting consumer habits in a COVID-19 environment.
“What we’re trying to do is provide as much value as we can to help people understand what is going on at the macro level in this industry and how consumer engagement has moved almost entirely online,” Weller said. “If you look at all the statistics, the consumer now spends 12 hours online in the flooring purchase journey and only two hours in a physical location. Those numbers speak for themselves—and that was pre COVID! So, who knows where that number has actually moved to. With all that said, the strategy deployed moving forward had better be digital first, or you’re going to pick up only the scraps that are left behind.”
The ability of the average floor covering retailer to evolve during these challenging times and changing retail climate will be key to their success now and in the future. FloorForce, with its thorough understanding of these overarching market trends, is uniquely positioned to help floor covering retailers navigate these waters. “We are a company that’s really thinking about this all the time,” Weller explained. “We constantly strive to share tidbits of information as much as we can.”
To that end, a big part of the FloorCon 2021 educational program will entail providing retailers with the necessary tools to make sure they approach prospects with the right messaging for the current times. As Weller explained: “The biggest issue pre-COVID was, ‘Hey, everything is moving to digital.’ When the pandemic hit, we were all sitting in our houses, locked down, and the dealers were like, ‘We can’t shut down our business. How can we help these consumers have an experience in shopping that’s similar to being in a store without coming in the stores?’”
But as the world begins to turn the corner on the pandemic, flooring retailers face the prospect of consumers moving more of their disposable dollars to things like dining out, vacations and leisure, for example. Coupled with all the shipping and logistical challenges on top of the labor shortage the industry at large is facing, that presents a whole different set of issues for the flooring dealer. All this requires dealers to become more nimble—not only in terms of messaging but also how they operate day to day.
“Every single dealer we talked to is at capacity; they have installations lined up through the end of the year,” Weller said. “Unfortunately, they don’t have enough installers and half the manufacturers can’t get the products they need, so they are backed up like never before. Many don’t know what to do. Our advice is, if they can’t schedule new appointments, then their advertising messages need to change. But by no means should they stop advertising.”
FloorCon 2021 promises to help attendees find solutions to these issues and more through a robust and relevant offering of educational sessions, information sharing and networking opportunities. Show organizers also plan to unveil exciting ways to engage the consumer in-store while further simplifying the online shopping process. What’s more, FloorForce has invited a special guest keynote speaker—a retired NFL coach who has been successful both on and off the field—to offer an inspiring message to attendees.
“At FloorCon we’re bringing together what I consider the first adopters or the like-minded people in the flooring industry who are not satisfied with the status quo,” Weller said.
Dealers are invited to register for the event here.