Abbey Carpet & Floor celebrated its diamond anniversary this year at its annual convention and expo, held February 19-23 in Long Beach, Calif. Retailers and supplier partners from across the country came together for this family reunion experience to both celebrate the successes of past years, and to prepare for another successful 60-year run. The theme of the convention, “Time for Action,” highlighted the group’s overarching goal to help members grow their businesses. 

The convention kicked off with breakfast and the general session on Tuesday, February 20, followed by breakout sessions, covering topics such as 2018 product releases from supplier partners, tax reform opportunities, and sales and business management. Tuesday wrapped up with a Member Mixer and Hot Buys event. Wednesday hosted the opening of the expo floor as well as regional advertising group meetings. Approximately 65 suppliers were on the expo floor, as well as the Money Talks! Member raffle. On Wednesday evening, Abbey hosted a 60th anniversary street festival at The Cove, featuring entertainment, street performers, live music, games and food from local food trucks. The expo continued on Thursday, and the event closed with a tour and dinner cruise aboard the RMS Queen Mary. 

Time for Growth

Abbey keeps in touch with its roots. Having begun as a floor covering retailer out of Sacramento, Calif., in 1958, Abbey now has more than 800 franchise stores across the country. The group has persisted and grown over its 60-year tenure because of its commitment to flexibility, innovation, and its franchise-partners. “Where most companies don’t survive 60 years, we’re thriving,” said Phil Gutierrez, CEO of Abbey. Gutierrez attributes Abbey’s success to its staff, saying what he is most proud of in the group’s 60-year legacy is a series of many things done by the staff to put the company forward. With a focus on taking care of its members, Abbey’s team is committed to finding innovative solutions for its retail-members. 

In today’s rapidly advancing technological era, the business landscape is constantly evolving. Because of its emphasis on flexibility, Abbey has been able to develop programs to capitalize on changing market trends through its digital marketing service offerings, such as email marketing campaigns and website design. New this year in Abbey’s digital marketing services line-up are: digital display ads, remarketing, and social media engagement.

Despite the growth of online retail sales, consumers are still most likely to come to a brick-and-mortar retailer to make flooring purchases, but they will come prepared with knowledge from online research. A premier Google Partner, Abbey works with Google to help retailers engage customers where they already are: online and on their phones. According to Stephanie Schmitt, Google development manager for marketing solutions, there are 176 million searches on Google every day related to the flooring industry, and 55% of those searches come from a mobile device. Not only do consumers do most of their research online, they search whenever they have a spare moment: on their lunch break, in line for coffee, in the lobby or waiting room. Abbey digital display ads and remarketing programs help retailers to tap into these “micro-moments” as Schmitt refers to them in order to engage customers.

Digital display ads are triggered when matched to relevant page content or specifically targeted by advertisers. These ads target users visiting pages that relate to their needs, interests, or profile who may not be actively searching for flooring, but will remember an advertiser in the future. Digital display ads are cost effective, have a wide reach and increase brand awareness. Remarketing is a tool retailers can use to reengage with consumers who have visited their site by placing relevant ads across user devices after they have left a retailer’s site. These ads can then “remind” the user about their previous search on the retailer’s site. Remarketing gives clients access to highly-targeted audiences that are more likely to buy, improves brand recall and awareness, and has a large-scale reach and increased ROI. 

Also new this year in digital marketing for Abbey members are tailored social media engagement programs for Facebook and Instagram. While many know how to use social media—many of us utilize it every day in our personal lives—Schmitt recommends hiring a professional who can make the most of each platform through effective posting, constant engagement, and customized reporting. Abbey has also now partnered with Podium, an online customer review management software that allows for retailers to not only manage reviews across multiple websites, but also request customer reviews from clients via text and track multiple data points through an easy-to-use interface. 

Time for New

In 2018, Abbey invited nine new suppliers to join its ranks, including: Phenix Flooring, JJ Haines, SOHO Studio, Engineered Floors, Morgan Stanley, and Heartland. These new suppliers bring everything from designer tile and carpet to legacy planning and payroll services to Abbey retail members. Phenix Flooring, a supplier of carpet and LVT collections for both residential and commercial projects, feels confident in helping Abbey retailers fill spaces left on their showroom floors left by recent closures in the industry. Show attendees seemed most excited about the supplier’s Phenix on Main commercial collection. Retailers are also excited about the addition of Engineered Floors, parent-company of Dream Weaver, to help meet the growing polyester and nylon carpet segments. On display at the expo booth were samples of the manufacturer’s products made with its PureColor solution-dyed fiber system, which provides long-lasting color-fastness as well as more natural color variation.

Though not a new supplier, having already supplied underlayment and flooring cushion, Healthier Choice now supplies hardwood collections for Abbey’s private label brand. With both solid and engineered options, these four collections offer planks ranging from 4-3/4” to 7” wide in popular styles and finishes. SOHO Studio, based out of New York, N.Y., is looking to the future to aid Abbey retailers in capturing the newest homebuyers and renovators, millennials. “Young consumers in Kansas, for example, want their homes to look like HGTV, and when retailers don’t have what they want, that equals lost sales,” said Eli Mechlovitz, president and CEO of SOHO Studio. Featuring chic on-trend mosaic designs, SOHO Studio’s partnership with Abbey allows retailers to bring East Coast style to their stores across the nation. According to Mechlovitz, SOHO Studio collections did well in Abbey test market stores, which helped in the decision-making process. 

Abbey Carpet & Floor 2019 annual convention and expo will be held February 22-26, 2019, in Phoenix.

SIDEBAR: New Suppliers on Joining Abbey

“We are really excited and honored to be here and we’re looking forward to building new relationships.”

– Chris Johnson, SVP sales, Phenix Flooring

“We see this as a huge opportunity, so we’re excited to be in the group.”

– William Young, director of national accounts, Engineered Floors

“We’re looking forward to partnering with the right stores. We’ve done well in the few that we’re in. And we hope to deliver to them great customer experience so that they as retailers are excited to pass us along to their customers.”

– Eli Mechlovitz, president and CEO, SOHO Studio