As I’m writing this in March 2020, the world is turned upside down. It’s tempting to report and write only about what we’re dealing with right now—the coronavirus—and we have been doing a lot of that on our website and disseminating the info through our daily TalkFloor eNewseltter.
It’s going to be a long road. What will it mean for the flooring industry going forward? One thing is an even more accelerated push toward ecommerce.
As the virus took its toll, more consumers turned toward online delivery rather than risk going to the store themselves. Amazon reported it will hire 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers to keep up with demand. Grocery apps in the United States experienced record numbers of daily downloads in March, according to app analytics company Apptopia. Walmart, which has a standalone grocery app, saw a 160% growth in app downloads.
Personally, a harbinger of things to come were the quickly changing shopping habits of my mom. I don’t want to go as far as to say she was luddite when it came to all things ecommerce, but at 70-something she liked things how they were before. When my sister and I bought mom a Kindle a few years ago, she was quick to say, “Return it. I prefer reading an actual book.” When we tried to upgrade her flip phone to a smart phone, it took two years and three phones before she agreed to keep one—let alone to encourage her to keep the phone on when she’s not using it so that we could reach her.
Then arrived the coronavirus and things changed. No more going to the grocery store. She started asking us to help her source things on Amazon, from ingredients to videos to coffee table books. The next week, she needed more contact lenses and was amazed when they were delivered the very next day. Soon I started getting all those random texts from her days of endless quarantine surfing. “Did you know you can freeze bananas?” “Did you see this research in the news about how long we will be dealing with this virus?”
There’s no surprise that sales are going digital, even with flooring. What this pandemic has emphasized for me is that we need technology. Flooring will ultimately be sold more online, and with that we’ll need a seamless network that enables businesses to fulfill customers’ flooring needs from ideation to installation.