Las Vegas—The 2023 International Surface Event highlighted the vigor with which the flooring industry is facing today. Flooring software technology providers were among those ready to support the industry’s vitality and growing needs in 2023.
Following are the latest innovations from the industry’s top software technology providers:
Broadlume has long been supplying the floor covering industry with essential technologies such as websites and digital marketing tools but is now slightly pivoting. “We really have shifted our focus from just being solely about independent retailers to connecting manufacturers, retailers and consumers—to simplify the buying and selling of floor covering,” John Weller, CIO at Broadlume, told FCNews.
Recently the company kicked off its new direction with the announcement of two major supplier partnerships—The Dixie Group and Hallmark. According to Weller, Broadlume has another 15 suppliers in the queue. “For the very first time, we’re really leaning into partnership connections, and we’re starting to build out more intuitive software to give manufacturers better insights into what’s going on inside the retail stores they partner with,” Weller explained. “And to give the retailers an easier way to work and communicate with their manufacturers while working together to bring opportunities to sales.”
One way in which the company is doing that is by empowering the retailer’s own brand. “What we’ve learned through all the data is a retailer’s brand in a local market is far more powerful than any brand in the flooring industry,” Weller said. “The retailer should really be leveraging the brand equity they own and then working with the manufacturers they partner with to put together a digital program to symbiotically leverage each other to push the retailer’s brand up and bring the manufacturers’ brands with it.”
What’s been five years in the making has come to fruition as Comp-U-floor has transitioned its software into a fully web- and mobile-based business management system. “All you need is a web browser and an internet connection to access our software on any kind of device—iPad, desktop, Chromebook, etc.,” Alex Aya, vice president, Comp-U-Floo told Floor Covering News.
The web-based version of Comp-U-Floor offers the same features flooring dealers have always found valuable in the software, including point of sale support, sales and purchase order processing, installation management, inventory control and much more.
The new mobile-based software system allows for new features and benefits as well. “Mobile showrooms are big now,” Aya noted. “We’re seeing just franchises of guys out there with mobile showrooms and selling at that point of sale in a customer’s home, which is a big [change]. It means those flooring dealers can access the software from a mobile device out in the field.”
This year, Measure Square is expanding into the stone industry with a focus on stone measuring software. “There was a lack of measure estimating technology for the stone industry,” Steven Wang, CEO, told Floor Covering News. “They have been using general estimating software, which is inefficient for them. But when they stop by the booth and they see our new Measure Square Stone, they are amazed.”
Designed specifically for the stone trade, Measure Square Stone lays out takeoff and design of stone projects based on blueprints in a fast and easy manner. Measure Square Stone also easily optimizes slab usage and waste cut lists, which is said to be able to save a business more than 20% in material cost.
“And with this software, they can provide an estimate right on the spot instead of the usual: ‘I’ll send you an estimate in a day or two,’” Wang noted.
Over the last year, Mobile Marketing has focused on partnering with other leading technology providers within the industry in an effort to provide a whole new level of services not previously available. Most recently, the company has partnered with Roomvo, QFloors and RFMS.
“We’ve made some tremendous improvements in the ability to go from finding customers online all the way through to a closed sale,” Carole Cross, CEO, told Floor Covering News. “We can now show retailers their return on ad spend. This has never been done in the industry before.”
Communication has also been a focus for Mobile Marketing. “When a consumer becomes a customer, how do they get ready for their install? How do they care for their carpet? The ability to create communications from the retailer to the customer, knowing which stage they are in, provides a whole other level of value. Now the data can tell us a customer just purchased carpet; so, we can send texts and email messages about how to care for your carpet. That customer just bought tile. What’s the first thing they’re going to do on a hard surface product? They’re going to put a rug on it. Let’s send a coupon to the Rugs.Shop and give them a discount off rugs.”
The last piece of the puzzle for Mobile Marketing, and perhaps the most powerful, is inventory management. “On the website side, traditionally, we’d work with the retailer and we’d upload a supplier’s whole catalog online,” Cross explained. “However, we had no ability to say, ‘This product is in stock. This product’s on the showroom floor. This product’s on promotion.’ Now we can reach into these back-end systems and deliver an in-stock product catalog, show how much inventory they have, show it online—even show the price if they want to get into e-commerce. Those things have always been really, really hard because you’re interacting with a front-end website technology over here and you’re interacting with your business software over here, but the two have never been talking. Now we can deliver a whole new value proposition.”
QFloors has leaned into its new partnerships and today offers a whole new level of service to its clients via QConnect and other major upgrades/additions to its business management system.
For example, via QConnect, QFloors customers can now sync, update and streamline their data. “The website companies don’t have the B2B product information specific to every customer,” Chad Ogden, president, QFloors, told Floor Covering News. “They have general marketing information for each product, but they don’t have all the pricing and the product availability, stock on hand, etc. That’s already in QFloors—and we’re able to provide that specific information back up to the websites so they can automatically update. QR codes, for example, make it possible for a retailer to have a product on their showroom floor instantly update if there is a price change.”
Via QConnect, QFloors customers can even gather valuable marketing information not previously available. “The website technologies are collecting leads and data from various sources,” Ogden said. “They can then give us the leads directly into QFloors without retailers having to type them back into the program. And then we can update them on what’s going on with that particular customer as they move through our system—up until they’re sold. And these technologies can provide customized reports about how much money our retailers spent on a certain channel of advertising versus what they’re closing, which now gives them a good idea of where they should be spending their money. This is a huge benefit available through our QConnect technology.”
QFloors will also soon launch the latest editions of its QPro software, QPro2, as well as QFloors’ credit card payment services, QProPay.
Roomvo introduced Roomvo Kiosk at Surfaces, an interactive solution that brings visualization in store. Designed to enhance the in-store shopping environment, Roomvo Kiosk makes it easy for customers to see products in their own home before leaving the showroom, resulting in higher conversions and quicker sales, according to Brandon Shidlowski, senior director of strategy.
“Purchasing floors can be difficult,” Shidlowski said. “Roomvo takes the guesswork out of home renovation, showing homeowners what products will look like in their home before they actually purchase. Our visualizer helps customers feel confident in their purchase decisions, leading to better customer interactions, shorter sales cycles and higher value transactions. Sponsored by the industry’s leading manufacturers, Roomvo is proud to provide independent retailers with this ultimate sales tool at no charge.”
Last year, RFMS was acquired by Compusoft+ 2020, a leading global provider of end-to-end software and content solutions, which has brought added resources to the RFMS platform. “The exciting thing is the expanded bandwidth—particularly in R&D,” said Madeleine Bayless, CEO of RFMS.
According to Bayless, RFMS has been focused on launching its updated ERP system, internally dubbed RFMS Next, which will be platform agnostic. “It’s basically a rewrite of our ERP system that we’re bringing into a more modern user interface. So, it’s going to allow for a lot of things the users have asked for over the years, like the ability to customize the screens, make them sticky and only show the things that particular user wants to see day in and day out.”
Samplesapp, the winner of multiple innovation awards—including a Best of Surfaces Technology award—is poised to revolutionize the way retailers maintain their showroom. The new tool, which is free for retailers, aims to solve the challenge of samples leaving the store and not being returned. It also helps them grow sales, track leads and improve service. With a simple check-out and check-in process, the easy-to-use app sends helpful text and email messages from the sales associate to the customer, which builds a stronger connection between the two. Samplesapp aims to solve problems for every stakeholder in the floor buying process, including manufacturers, reps, store owners, retail sales associates and ultimately consumers.
“As a technology company, we want to provide solutions and solve challenges that can make a real difference for flooring retailers,” said Carole Cross, CEO of Retail Samples Solutions, the company behind Samplesapp. “The cost of lost samples has been a decades-long issue for the industry. We’re thrilled to see retailers embrace Samplesapp and immediately recognize the positive impact it can have on a store’s profits and service levels.”
Showroom Pricing has launched several new features for its customers. For example, the company now allows dealers to track samples and their customers to create “favorite” lists while shopping and scanning QR codes in the showroom. “It’s a fantastic tool that utilizes the same QR code that customers scan for pricing,” said Kristen Stensby, co-founder. “Stores that were unable to price a showroom before can now get pricing on the floor. Stores that were already pricing can save time and money by pricing it for the last time. Salespeoples’ time is spent selling again.”
The company also now provides valuable data reports about what customers are actually looking at. “We encourage our clients to compare what their customers are scanning to what they are selling,” Stensby said. “It’s an easy way to spot trends to capitalize on for stocking or even price negotiation. Lastly, there’s so much data available to the sales rep when he scans the same QR code, including cost, which makes closing the sale that much easier on the showroom floor.” (Read more about Showroom Pricing here.)