CCA convention: The era of Retail 2.0 takes shape

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CCA Global winter convention 2023
Attendees of the CCA Global convention 2023 were treated to a Retail 2.0 immersive experience.

Phoenix—The tone for the CCA Global winter convention 2023 here was set the moment CEO, Rick Bennet, walked on stage to start the meeting and declared: “I’m not one for platitudes but we are embarking on the greatest transformation in our history.”

With that, the 1,200 retailer attendees at CCA Global’s winter convention spent three days in an immersive experience called Retail 2.0—the flooring industry’s largest merchandising and digital marketing rollout that includes more than 8 million product SKUs and a completely integrated digital platform. Retail 2.0 will arrive at Carpet One Floor & Home showrooms as Room by Room and at Flooring America and Flooring Canada showrooms as Room to Explore, beginning in April 2023.

“This will require extraordinary effort from the co-op and members,” Bennet told members. “2.0 is an easier and more intuitive selling system; it will raise conversion rates, grow overall sales and raise margins. Join us in this quest—this is a journey we are all in together.”

Retail 2.0 initially started in 10 pilot stores, with results from that test group showing an immediate uptick in sales. From there, 100 dealers were selected for the selling system, which is intended to streamline the process of buying residential flooring, with fewer SKUs. With 2.0, CCA is looking to shorten the shopping journey and keep people out of other stores.

“We’ve had two and half years to tell members about this, so this is no surprise,” John Gilbert, president of Carpet One Floor & Home, told FCNews. “And we had a business case, we have results. This convention is confirming what we all believed. I’m pleasantly overwhelmed with the response. Most members, once they get over the initial shock, will say ‘good call.’ The overwhelming sentiment has been this is time and we are on board.”

Keith Spano, president of Flooring America/Flooring Canada, added, “We become the standard for retail flooring with 2.0; it’s unlike any system that has come before it. Simplifying the shopping experience, cutting down on duplication—fewer samples, cleaner showrooms—is a clear differentiator. It’s a win for our suppliers—fewer samples, increased revenue.”

In addition to the 100 stores that have Retail 2.0 today, another 300 will get the displays in April, followed by 300 more this summer and 300 more in the fall. By year-end, the goal is that most, if not all, of the 1,200 members will have 2.0 in their showroom.

As for those who refrain from taking on Retail 2.0, Gilbert said, “We’re not going to push members out but we’re not going to support two merchandising systems either. The final holdouts will probably say this is where we need to be. The meat of this convention is remarketing your showroom with Retail 2.0 the first chapter. Pretty much everyone has bought into it or planned for it.”

Gilbert called 2.0 “purposeful,” adding, “product assorted by color and having fewer products on the floor is not revolutionary. But it’s a very logical next step to get retailers to be contemporary.”

Retailers weigh in

CCA Global convention 2023
Retail 2.0 tag lines such as “Designer Carpet” replace supplier brand names.

To say there was interest in Retail 2.0 among members would be an understatement. When the trade show portion of the conference opened, scores of dealers swarmed the 2.0 pavilion to get a close-up look. Many took photos while some videotaped it.

Bonnie Fenwick, owner of Carpet One Floor & Home, Jacksonville, Fla., was involved in the original 10-member pilot program that started in 2021. She spent time explaining the system to retailers who are on the waiting list. “We’ve had wonderful results,” Fenwick told FCNews. “My salespeople embraced it because it was getting them the sale quicker. This system is so user friendly you could have a green salesperson take a customer to the display and feel very comfortable making the sale.”

Fenwick said her store in Jacksonville started with hard surfaces in 2021 and added soft surfaces in 2022 as part of Retail 2.0. “It is a game changer, it really is—it is a differentiator,” she said.

Randy Mostad, co-owner of Carpet One Floor & Home of Billings, in Billings, Mont., suggested that 2.0 “will raise the bar for the industry,” adding “the way things have been done in the past in retail showrooms has been so rudimentary. This new system will change the way the flooring industry shops.”

While some dealers are clamoring for the new showroom, Stuart Beiswanger, owner of Gallatin Valley Carpet One, Bozeman, Mont., is taking more of a wait-and-see approach. “I’m waiting for the kinks to be worked out,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited about it. I’ve been drinking the teal (Carpet One’s color) Kool-Aid since 1991 and can tell you this is going to be a great program, a more seamless way for the customer to shop, and the suppliers will be motivated because their products will sell faster.”

Others cited the efficiency of the sales process that should lead to more sales, quickly. “It’s impressive—I do think it’s going to make a difference,” said Mark Rubando, president of Giant Carpet One, Wilkes-Barre, Pa. “We have three stores, the smallest being 30,000 square feet. And we currently have samples everywhere; it’s cluttered. This simplifies the process. You feel good shopping with this system.”

Lee Emerson, president of Emerson Carpet One Floor & Home, Baton Rouge, La., was one of the first 100 retailers to test out the system and said his customers have gravitated to it. In fact, during the conference, he showed a video interview he conducted unsolicited with a customer who raved about its simplicity. “Customers love shopping by color, and the wood-looks merchandising helps them do just that. The simplicity helps them find the product they are searching for with ease.”

What’s in it for suppliers?

The success of Retail 2.0 also relies on the buy-in of CCA premier vendors who are making significant investments to be part of a program that will no longer highlight their brands in the displays. Instead of seeing “Mohawk” or “Shaw” on the displays, callouts like “Expressive,” “Classic” and “Waterproof” will adorn the showroom. No matter, most suppliers agreed this system is better and results will follow.

Jason Surratt, president of Tarkett’s residential division, echoed the sentiment of many when he said, “I like that this simplifies the story for the RSA.”

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