Over the last year, NovaFloor —the retail resilient brand of Novalis—has undergone a complete makeover. From an updated product portfolio to new merchandising/advertising initiatives and a total digital overhaul, the new brand is ready to tackle any customer need.
Megan Salzano-Birch, FCNews’ senior editor/digital director, caught up with the team at NovaFloor, including Steve Ehrlich, vice president of sales and marketing; Nate Hohenstein, director of strategic accounts; and Kim Hill, director of marketing and creative design, to discuss the revamp.
Talk about the decision to completely update NovaFloor.
Hohenstein: Novalis has a very rich history in LVT. I think a lot of people in the industry know Novalis and NovaFloor, but we had a really good story to tell about the organization and the brand—our focus on sustainability and that everything we do is driven by how it impacts our consumers and their lives, not just how it looks on the floor; combined with our history of innovation and our emphasis on style and design—that we had never really been able to tell at the consumer level. We felt it was very important to start to engage the consumer. It was important for them to understand the “who” behind what the brand really is.
In addition, the consumer demands on our distributors have changed as the consumer’s knowledge has grown regarding LVT. And we had to change with it. The way our customers shop—both our distributors as well as their retailers and the end user—has changed dramatically. And so, we’ve made a lot of major investments.
What has been updated in terms of your product portfolio?
Hill: One of the biggest changes to our product portfolio has been a brand-new collection: Dansbee. Dansbee came about because we needed balance. Dansbee is lighter, brighter, more modern than any other collection in our portfolio. And while we had these traditional, rustic, transitional and even economic styles already in our portfolio—and they are gorgeous—we really needed the lightness of Dansbee, the modern blonde. In addition, in 2020, we introduced Maybree. It has a larger format—we call that “estate” sizing—a premium finish and very classic run. So, where Dansbee is incredibly modern and light, Maybree is that more estate, refined look. Our entire portfolio is also now offered in rigid core with an attached pad.
What do you want your customers to know about this new product portfolio and how it will support their needs?
Hohenstein: The one thing we want our dealers and distributors to know and understand is that NovaFloor continues to stand on the core values and the founding principles of Novalis: style, innovation, performance and sustainability.
We’ve heard their feedback, and we’ve really looked at our portfolio. And not only adapted our portfolio but we’ve also adapted our route to market to best meet their needs. So, there’s a ton of tools and resources available on the NovaFloor website that the dealers can use. If they have a mobile phone anywhere around, they’re never without the resources that NovaFloor provides to help sell our products to their consumers. And the other big thing is that our portfolio is virtually 100% in stock domestically.
Expand on the benefits of your supply chain.
Hohenstein: We’ve been very pleased with the way we’ve adapted. We have domestic warehouses, so our portfolios have never really been out of stock, even down at the SKU level. Our customers are not having to wait 12 weeks to get their flooring. It was really about partnering with our distributors to understand their demand for our products and putting plans in place to ensure that we were bringing material in to support their needs above and beyond what they had already planned for themselves. We really wanted to make sure that when a consumer walked over to a NovaFloor rack and saw a color and fell in love with it she knew it was available. Hearing it was out of stock—that just wasn’t an option for NovaFloor. In an already cumbersome process, we didn’t want that to be another pain point for the consumer.
And you expect that to continue moving forward?
Ehrlich: Yes, for sure. We’re controlling supply from manufacturing all the way to the logistics fees and getting it into our warehousing. So, we’re very confident that since we only rely on ourselves and have all the operational pieces in place, we can continue this and also adapt and change. Because this won’t be the last change—it could be logistics and raw materials and anything else that goes into the puzzle of bringing it into the customer’s home. So, we’re very confident that since we control it, we’ll be able to keep this 100%-type fill rate for our distributors.
You’ve also updated your in-store merchandising program?
Hill: For our customers who still want to go into a store and don’t want to shop virtually, we upgraded our in-store merchandising. We have a Flooring Design Center that is a big, gorgeous display that we made a few upgrades to this year—upgrading some of the color and the lighting. It was such a good piece that we didn’t make huge changes to it. But we also created waterfalls for all of our collections.
Hohenstein: The Flooring Design Center was something we launched in 2019. It is really a great display; it houses all four of our main collections—Maybree, Serenbe, Lyndon Plus and Dansbee. 106 SKUs are featured in that one-stop shop. But the waterfalls were really to focus in on smaller footprint stores who don’t want a large display. We’re able to give them access to NovaFloor without saying, “Here’s our display. Take it or leave it.” It goes back to meeting the consumer and the retailer with what they need, where they need it, when they need it.
What investments have you made in the digital realm?
Hohenstein: In our virtual assets, we have a new website that went live in 2021. We upgraded our visualizer with new software that allowed consumers to see our floor real-time in their space. We went through a complete overhaul of all photography, digital catalogs, digital flipbooks, tools for our salespeople to use in the field—and we made sure that everything was very mobile-friendly. All of those things combined really allowed us to meet our customers and the consumer where they’re shopping today, which is primarily virtually. We believe virtual is the new evolution of the marketplace. As with most things, it took flooring a little while longer than the rest of the world to go virtual, but I think we’re there.
Hill: NovaFloor got a complete facelift in the last year, rather than just a little bit of Botox. In addition to the brand-new website, we developed a great sample program to get our samples into the hands of the end consumer very, very easily. She can go online and get up to five free samples at any time, and then get this beautifully merchandised box. We wanted to take the customer all the way through the shopping experience and make her love it from the very beginning.
We also did social media influencer campaigns. The pandemic changed everything. It’s changed where we work. It’s changed how people spend their free time. It’s changed all of our lives. And it’s changed marketing too. Post-pandemic, if you’re not a big player in social campaigns or you don’t have all of your virtual assets looking their best and readily available, you’re not going to be playing in the game. The update was a must-do. And we saw that early.
Hohenstein: Kim’s team did a wonderful job this year with our social media. It’s the first year that we got into the influencer world. At the end of the day, where inspiration used to be found in magazines or in walking retail environments, now inspiration is found in their social circles. And consumers seek people who they aspire to be. We had some really fun influencers. I think it really got us a great start in what we want our social presence to be, and we’re going to continue to build on that in 2022.