The old adage was location, location, location to reach the consumer. Now it is logistics, logistics, logistics. Competitors with the best e-commerce strategy will be the winners whether they sell food, flowers, or flooring. Flooring manufacturers, distributors, and retailers are adding e-commerce capabilities on their websites and expanded delivery options to meet consumer expectations.
- Home Depot added a mobile app-enabled store navigator so customers can locate products, check inventory, and expedite the online ordering process. The app provides store-specific maps, which allows customers to pinpoint the exact location of an item on their mobile device. In addition, Home Depot installed self-service lockers at the front entrance to offer the convenient pickup of online orders.
- Lowe’s is giving customers the ability to schedule a delivery in a narrow time frame. The company is also strengthening their ability to sell to professionals by adding business-to-business capabilities at is lowesforpros.com. To meet this goal, Lowe’s is offering free shipping, special pricing, and tax-exempt ordering on their pro website.
- The Floor and Decor website provides customers with inspirational vignettes, videos, products, a room visualizer, and education. The website is designed to reflect their stores, promote their 4,000 plus flooring and related product SKUs, and value pricing.
These investments resulted in soaring e-commerce sales due to the coronavirus shelter-in-place orders. E-commerce sales at Home Depot and Lowe’s increased about 80% in the first quarter of fiscal 2020, and sales increased at a similar rate for online home furnishing retailer Wayfair. Overstock, another leading online home furnishing retailer, reported sales increased over 120% in April 2020. Wayfair and Overstock are also expanding their online offerings of hard surface flooring and other home improvement products. For Home Depot e-commerce sales represented 14.9% of total company sales in the first quarter of fiscal 2020, up from only 5.9% in fiscal 2016. Brick-and-mortar retailers have generally outpaced sales gains at online retailers during 2020, since brick-and-mortar retailers increased their investment to upgrade e-commerce software platforms and improve logistics.
To compete, brick-and-mortar retailers should seek assistance with their supplier partners. For example:
- Mohawk relies on its Omnify Digital platform to provide an omni-solution to some 80.0% of the company’s Premier retailers. The platform allows retailers to create an online showroom to match their brick-and-mortar showrooms. The platform also provides content for the retailer’s website.
- AHF Products launched a program to ship free flooring samples for retailers to better support a more personalized home shopping experience for consumers. In addition, the company introduced a new visualizer tool to make it easier for professional and homeowners to work on a new flooring project. New online room visualizers allow consumers to see how a color or style will look in a variety of different rooms, and upload their own image to see how their selection will look in their own home. Customers can see how a floor will look like in their home and the retailer can follow-up with free samples.
- Armstrong also launched a program to ship free flooring samples directly to consumers, as well as a new enhanced online Design-a-Room tool. Armstrong will ship up to three flooring samples for free. Upgrades to the online Design-a-Room tool allows the consumer to compare products and see how the new flooring will look in their home.
Changing logistics is restructuring the supply chain to bring goods right to the customer’s home, business, or construction site. Be sure to beef-up your e-commerce strategy so you are not left out of the loop.
For more information on e-commerce trends see the Catalina Report on E-Commerce Sales and Competitor Strategies in the Flooring, Furnishing, and Home Improvement Markets, June 2020. Contact Stuart Hirschhorn at Catalina Research, Inc. (firstname.lastname@example.org or 561-988-0853) to discuss the findings in the report.