Consumer shopping habits have have changed 10 years in just 18 months, and independent flooring retailers need tools to change along with them, according to the executives at CCA Global Partners. The team presented their concept—and the tools required—for ‘Retail 2.0’ at the group’s summer convention, “Ahead of the Future,” held in Denver, Colorado, July 19-21.

“Our rate of acceleration must at least meet the consumer,” said Keith Spano, president, Flooring America, Flooring Canada, Floor Trader and International Design Guild. “They are not captive audiences. Once consumers enter one of our new doors, it’s a race—speed matters.”​

To see the consumer where they are, CCA Global flooring brands—which include Carpet One Floor & Home, Flooring America, Flooring Canada, Floor Trader and International Design Guild—have joined forces to unveil their strategies for Retail 2.0: the next generation of flooring retail.

“It’s critical we make it easy for our customer to shop,” said John Gilbert, president, Carpet One Floor & Home. “By creating new solutions for old problems, we are innovating.”

Shop Local

“What I was surprised to see is that during the pandemic, people really wanted to shop local in a stronger way,” said Frank Chiera, senior vice president marketing and advertising, CCA Global Partners. “During the pandemic, they needed convenience, they needed speed. They needed all these things that digital tools delivered. And while we have a lot of digital marketing programs that help our members, what we need to do is connect the tools that customer wants with what a sales professional needs to close the sale.”

Chiera said CCA Global’s Retail 2.0 concept combines messaging of “shop local” with the innovative technology that big box retailers or an online retailer like Amazon would have. The goal: to raise the independent flooring store to be the best option in every local market.

Theresa Fisher, senior vice president of visual merchandising, pointed out that the journey to buying a major home purchase, such as flooring, can be frustrating. The average customer visits up to four stores during their search for the perfect solution.

“With Retail 2.0, our goal is to have a system that enables a smoother experience,” Fisher said. “It’s all about allowing customers to access where and when they want. Online or in store, or back and forth. We have them covered.”

The Flooring Store of the Future

CCA piloted a new retail concept in January that is formulated around simplicity and building continuity in the sales process that helps retail sales associates close more sales faster.

“The entire idea behind it is to give the customer the opportunity to shop completely online, completely in store or some hybrid between the two,” Fisher said.

“It’s a concept car—it's like going to an auto show and seeing a concept car and that concept car is going to become a reality, but it may be evolved,” Chiera added.

While Floor Trends could not publish photos of the concept, we did get the opportunity to walk through space, which included a simpler, clean showroom; merchandising displays that seamlessly incorporate digital content to promote and tell product stories; and collaboration areas called “relationship tables” that look more like an architectural showroom where consumers and retail sales associates can walk through samples and make plans.

“The relationship table now becomes a comfortable place where we can either invite the customer to stay and we'll grab the products and bring it back to them, or we can bring them over to one of the spokes where we can do a deeper dive on their specific product,” Chiera explained.

Digital Innovations

After two years of field testing, CCA has introduced digital price tags to help ensure that all store pricing remains up-to-date and reduces the amount of time needed to do pricing changes on the floor.

“I like the digital price tags. It’s a time saver especially with all the pricing advancements we’ve been going through so quickly,” said Stephanie Landers, owner, Landers Premier Flooring in Austin, Texas. “We tend to lose margin because we can’t get the floor priced correctly, so with these digital floor tags we can keep up with that.”

First announced in December 2020, the Carpet One Floor & Home, Flooring America, and Flooring Canada consumer sample box program is driving sales to retail stores. This program invites consumers to shop online through an elevated shopping experience and allows them to choose up to six flooring samples to be delivered directly to their homes in a convenient, curated package.

Chiera said the group looked at the competitive landscape to see what furniture stores like Restoration and Arhaus were doing with samples and built an experience for the consumer that feels custom and higher end.

“The 7,000 or sample boxes or so that we’ve sent out since May when we launched has gotten great feedback, and it’s a relatively low cost for the consumer,” Chiera said. “The member has a little bit of skin in the game as well on that and it’s producing higher sales—much higher sales than average—because a lot of times it’s part of a bigger project or they are working with a builder or architect.”

Centralized Digital Marketing

A major announcement at the show included CCA’s move to bring all of its digital marketing in house.

“We've always hired an agency to do paid search, natural search social media,” Rick Bennet, co-chief executive officer of CCA Global Partners, told members during opening session. "We took the opportunity to bring that in house during COVID and it's made a dramatic difference. First of all, all of digital media will be run through our in-house experts. We will save the money that used to pay an agency and be able to do a more effective visual marketing for you through our in-house broker.”

“It's just another element of what scale and size give us,” said Howard Brodsky, co-founder, chairman and CEO, CCA Global Partners. “It's going to be better service at a better price and with us having total control from beginning to end.”