What’s in store for retailers in 2019? We recently connected with Mike Cherico, vice president of the Floors & More buying group, to get his perspective on opportunities for the coming year. The group will host its winter convention at Green Valley Ranch in Henderson, Nev., January 20-22 where retailers will gain info on the latest products and sales and marketing tips to help them grow their businesses.

FT: What advice do you give to retailers for the coming year?

Cherico: I think it's going to be a year of refinement from a digital and social media standpoint. You're going to start seeing that people are going to put their money towards things that are actually working and stop trials.I think there's been a lot of trials in the last several years where people have tried different things, and I think you're going to see a little, some of that stopped and people are going to be more consistent with things that are working and staying with these programs longer. Right now, they're in and out so quick of digital social, they don't really give it a chance to work. We're an industry of instant gratification. Instant results. Let's run an ad, let's run some urgency. Let's get some sales. Digital, social doesn't work that way.

FT: Where is your growth coming from?

Cherico: The reason we've been growing so rapidly is there's a market out there of people who've never joined Carpet One, Flooring America, Abbey—nor did they join Shaw or Mohawk programs. Now they are realizing it's very difficult to compete with them, and there are private brands and services that they are not privy to.

The other reason is that the generation that is retiring learned the hard way. They learned by making the mistakes themselves. Some of them were on their knees as installers at one time and they've gotten their retail MBA through hard work and mistakes. Their child went to college, got their degree, and now is coming into the business with some business sense, but they don't have floorcovering sense. Those kinds of people are used to learning through structured programs like ours. Plus, it's a different world today. It's a lot more of analytics, it’s a lot more data driven, whereas the previous generation was more feel and intuitive. That’s where a group comes in. We're able to bring all this education, services, programs, private brands, pricing, rebates and digital marketing to this generation.

FT: What are the things that are keeping your members up at night?

Cherio: It's advertising lead generation. That's the magic word. If you ask anyone, what do you know? How do you make money in business? Well, you increase revenue and profit, or you reduce expenses, and I think right now people are having a hard time grasping the near future. It’s related to the marketing and an advertising and the Amazons of the world. They're afraid the brick-and-mortar stores going by the wayside. That’s why the private brands are so important. The can't go to a brick and mortar store to get knowledge and gain confidence that the product they want is a good product and then say, thank you, go back home, go online and purchase the product at a lower price or, or worse than that, go to a competitor and say, “Hey, I know the product that I want. This particular store gave me a price of $3,200. Can you beat it?”

FT: What are you most excited about for your membership next year?

Cherico: We’re talking about the growth. We’ve had accelerated growth and we continue to. I have a lot of deals pending. We're adding more gallery products, more private brand products, and more price points. The suppliers have been great to us. We're getting some super, super price points, and I'm really excited about some of the digital social media work that we're doing next year. We're really getting on it where we're focusing a lot more attention to bringing in digital and social, and I think people are finally understanding that this is content driven. Nobody wants to talk about that, but it's not necessarily how many times you say something like, it isn't a television in, it's what you say.

FT: So you’re helping them to build brand awareness long term?

Cherico: Yes. The retailers today, they tried this shotgun approach and they say, well, I'm going to try digital, I'm going to put some money into it and I'm going to do Google AdWords or a Facebook boost or whatever they do, and they put all the money and then if they don't get results in two months, they quit. And digital, it's not like that. It's nothing like that. It's completely, it's completely different.