Gary Vaynerchuck, CEO of VaynerMedia, a full-service advertising agency servicing Fortune 100 clients, has a lot of opinions. He’s made a name for himself sharing those thoughts all day, every day, through his daily vlog DailyVee. On a recent vlog, a telescope retailer asked a pertinent question: As the internet squeezes out the middleman, how does a retailer position themselves to endure? Vaynerchuck’s answer: Become the product.

“The retailer has had the last 20 to 30 years of leverage at scale,” Vaynerchuck said. “Walgreens, Walmart. The model is flipping, and the producer of the product is going become the leverage point, but that is going to take real time. It’s not like Walmart, Walgreens are dead tomorrow. Right now, every single product at Walgreens is working on the ability to make the economics work and not be at the mercy of Walgreens. That’s still going to be a 20-year timeline.”

His answer is that retailers have a huge opportunity to continue private labeling products and go direct to the consumer, possibly becoming “a bigger business than the retail store itself.” 

The history of private label in the flooring industry has shown huge success. Less price shopping, more exclusivity, but it does put the onus of marketing directly on the retailer’s shoulders.

January shows revealed the buying groups and major retailers offering more assistance with marketing. Flooring America/Flooring Canada and the Floor Trader offered members a major relaunch of the product catalog on websites, the integration of live chat, and appointment scheduling.

In 2020, Mohawk’s Omnify digital marketing program will provide a more streamlined user experience with an optimized core set of features – enabling retailers to choose the right solutions for their stores and control how they compete in their local markets.

“Today, 87 percent of consumers are hunting for products on digital channels,” said Karen Mendelsohn, Mohawk’s senior vice president of marketing. “This means that in order to succeed, specialty retailers need to extend their stores beyond their four walls. They need to be at the forefront of the digital revolution. That’s exactly why we developed Omnify and why we continue to invest in the program.”

Another group using technology to win is ICC Home, the Indianapolis-based member of the National Floorcovering Alliance. In this issue, you will learn how the team is leveraging technology to improve employee onboarding, training and retention. They took it upon themselves to create a solution that they are now sharing with the industry. We all may be getting squeezed by the internet, but creating innovative solutions will help us thrive.