Floor covering is a multi-billion-dollar industry that is underserved by technology, but one digital marketing company is aiming to leverage it to help flooring retailers compete with the likes of Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Lumber Liquidators. 

AdHawk, a company that helps small and medium-sized businesses expand their digital marketing presence, launched a test market in Florida in June for FlooringStores.com. The directory site connects consumers who are shopping for flooring with specialty retailers in their geographic area. 

“The goal of this is to help consumers during their buying process find the right products and find the local retailers that are able to help sell them that product and install that product,” said Todd Saunders, CEO and co-founder of AdHawk. “There’s been an issue in this space for a very long time, which is measuring quality of a retailer. So, we do try to fix that with reviews and reputation management, and on the consumer side, there’s just no good content for them to really help them make a decision—not just on which product to pick, but also which retailer to choose. So, we’re hoping by making the buying process easier, the whole consumer experience easier, consumers can win, and the specialty retailers can win.” 

Saunders said people in the flooring industry don’t realize how confusing the floor shopping experience can be for the consumer, especially people who are first-time home buyers who are looking to redo their homes. 

“The first thing they want to do is flooring, and they don’t know where to turn, so our goal is to be that unbiased place where consumers can connect with retailers to find the right products and the trusted retailers actually do that product purchase and installation,” he said.  

Flooringstores.com is testing the concept with 500 Florida retailers of various sizes, and a nationwide rollout will rely on a variety of factors. 

“We need to make sure we have as much demand as we have stores and as many stores as we have demand,” Saunders said. “So, what we’re hoping to learn in Florida is really how many leads can we generate for each retailer each month and how many happy consumers can we get from not knowing which product they want to pick a product and actually getting it installed? One thing that we are actively tracking is how many people fill out a form, actually buy product, and have that product installed by that retailer.”

To fund the initiative, AdHawk recently announced a $13 million round of new funding; to date, AdHawk has raised $17.7 million. This fundraising effort comes on the heels of AdHawk’s acquisition of FloorForce, the largest digital marketing and website platform for the floor covering industry. The acquisition, which was announced in January, was part of AdHawk’s larger effort to expand its presence in the $66 billion flooring space. 

In the past year, the AdHawk team has grown from a 30-person company to a 100-person company, and the latest round of funding will enable the team to invest heavily in the flooring and home services sectors, Saunders added. 

“There’s a massive divide between consumers, the flooring retailers that service them, and the entire industry supply chain,” said Avi Eyal, managing partner, Entrée Capital, which led the Series B financing with partipation from Table Management, Accomplice and others. “AdHawk is closing that gap for thousands of retailers across the country. The company has seen explosive growth to date. We’re excited, and fortunate, to be able to join and support the company on its journey ahead.”