The launch of Mohawk’s Omnify at Solutions 2017 signified a shift in the flooring manufacturer’s approach from an in-store focus to an omnichannel focus designed to connect the online, in-store and product experiences for consumers.

There has been a steep learning curve in the industry and the retail community in figuring out how to compete in the future of digital and physical retail, and the journey is far from over. While many retailers are first and foremost interested in driving traffic to their stores, Omnify is more than lead generation. The program builds content, delivers content and cultivates leads to get customers into independent flooring stores.

“It’s one of the most exciting things and the most ambitious projects we have undertaken in my 18 years at Mohawk,” said Seth Arnold, vice president, residential marketing, Mohawk. “The learning curve has been pretty intense, and I am happy to say that we’ve put in the time, talent and resources to accomplish this for the future and to help our retailers really modernize and step into a whole new way of doing business. I am beginning to see the fruits and success as or retailers open their eyes to whole new consumer segments.”

At the 2018 regional markets and at Surfaces in January, one year after launch, Mohawk introduced a completely overhauled Omnify core. A new dashboard and control panel is designed to offer a simpler user experience for the retailer. This year introduces hero campaigns for key product launches for brands such as Airo, Karastan and Smartstrand, and the advances Mohawk is making to the program will continue over the course of the year, culminating at its convention in December.

“Mohawk has always been a champion of the independent retail community, and we are in a whole new age of retail,” Arnold said. “We truly believe it is our responsibility to help ensure there is a thriving, successful, independent retail community that is able to compete with digital giants.”

One year since launch, Mohawk reports that several hundred retailers are now using the platform. “Since launching, we’ve seen constant traffic—even after busy times and promotions,” said Fred Gaines, owner of Bell’s Carpet & Floors, Raleigh, N.C., who uses the program.

For Mohawk, the program is built to help drive flooring sales for its retail partners. “We are not in the sale of technology,” Arnold said. “Our goal is to build the best program to help retailers sell more Mohawk floors. We hold ourselves accountable for helping them to improve the store traffic.”

A recent example shows how Omnify is helping to achieve this. During the during Mohawk Anniversary Sale, which ran through October, the company took 33 of the retailers who use Omnify and put together a video campaign utilizing Facebook. In two weeks, the video had 300,000 views and delivered almost 1,300 leads to the retailers. The cost per lead was under $10, according to Arnold.

“You’re not able to do that kind of thing unless you spend the time to build the content, to understand the consumer profiles you are looking for, to optimize the advertisements to show it to the right people,” he said. “A lot of people will focus on how much was your cost per lead? But what so many people fail to recognize is how much time and effort have to go into building the whole funnel, so you are presenting someone the right story at the right time and then you are following up with that customer with marketing automation to convert them to a lead.”

From Mohawk’s perspective, the investment is mandatory to succeed in today’s market. Arnold said over the last 50 years, the industry has created millions of physical flooring samples and merchandising tools to send to retailers. Today, Mohawk is investing in the development of digital samples and merchandising tools for retailers. Mohawk has also added an entire video and photography studio to develop high-quality campaigns in house.

“These are investments that other brands are not making and they are not responding to the changes in the way people shop,” Arnold said. “If a retailer wants to do their own digital merchandising, they are going to have to build all this content on their own. With Omnify, retailers are connecting to the most powerful brand in flooring and all the resources we are building.”

He contends that there are two types of retailers: do-it-yourselfers who want to hire their own staff of people, pay for their own commercials, build their own websites, manage social media and work with Google on keyword searches. Then there are the do-it-for-me retailers who want to focus on customers, install floors and provide great service.

“Omnify saves us time,” said Anthony Maye, general manager of Sparx Flooring Store, Lubbock, Texas, who uses the program. “It’s like having another employee working behind the scenes.”

Arnold said that retailers who are actively trying to build a digital presence consider the cost of Omnify an affordable option. “Retailers who have not addressed digital at all are looking at it and have a little sticker shock,” he said. “Omnify is not just a website; It’s an entire way to manage the business of the future.”