This was the message and attitude presented by the mill to more than 900 dealers and 3,600 people at its 10th Shaw Flooring Network (SFN) convention in Orlando, Fla.
Heather Yamada, director of consumer marketing and merchandising, said “Awesome is not just a theme or ad campaign—it’s a brand platform and long-term strategy. It’s how we can showcase our brand, products and company by showing what we do everyday is awesome, and that every day in people’s lives—whether big or small—awesome happens on a Shaw floor.”
Being awesome is simple to say, noted Randy Merritt, Shaw’s president, but “you need to prove it with innovative products, services and programs that will help our customers capture more business. That’s not an easy thing to do because for something to truly be innovative it has to be things no one else has done—be it a cool technology, a new product or product enhancement, and even how you act as a citizen by being a leader in your community. This is what being awesome is about.”
With that the company rolled out an assortment of innovative soft and hard surface products along with new ways for retailers to connect with the changing consumer landscape because as Merritt noted, this is the first time in U.S. history there are four generations in the workforce at the same time—but specifically reaching the millennials who will soon make up the largest demographic of consumers.
But whether it’s baby boomers, Gen X, Gen Y or millennials, Todd Callaway, Shaw’s director of digital content, said between the company’s patent-pending technology in its new app, Floorvana; a re-vamped website designed to be easy to navigate and find the right floor; a new suite of digital and social media services for dealers through a partnership with Promoboxx, an enhanced Web Studio for retailers that fully incorporates social media and more, it’s all about providing content because “just having a presence on things doesn’t mean anything because 70% to 90% of a consumer’s journey is complete before she ever engages with the store.”
The specialty dealer is “already juggling so much,” he explained, “and if we can take this off the list and make it easier for them to have their websites and social media platforms updated with good inspiring content there is a better chance of getter her to our dealer’s stores ready to purchase.”
Retailers who participate with Shaw through Promoboxx will be able to easily set up their Facebook and Twitter content calendars with ready-made posts and images. They can automate posts, manually select their favorites, or customize messages to make them even more applicable to their community and their business. Through Promoboxx, they will also have access to tools to create website banners, email campaigns, and personalized digital landing pages. Callaway said, “Retailers benefit in many ways, including having high quality content at their fingertips and reporting to help them know what’s working.”
While Promoboxx and the enhanced Web Studio for dealers and new Shaw website were hot-button topics, Floorvana was making a lot of noise at the convention as Shaw unveiled how this fee app can help both consumer and salespeople more easily find the floor that fits their lifestyle.
Misty Hodge, Shaw’s director of digital platforms, said as of last year there were more smart devices than people, so “we are taking advantage of this technology and bringing it to the flooring industry. When we were developing this, our thought was, ‘What does she really need in helping her shop for floor covering? What tools can we give her?’
While the consumer is most comfortable in her home, “you can find inspiration anywhere, and today, when you feel inspired you take a photo because nowadays everyone is carrying their phones.” In fact, it was noted that millennials open their phones over 150 times each day.
“With Floorvana,’” she explained, “you can take a photo of whatever inspires you at the moment—it could even just be a color. Once a photo is uploaded to the app, consumers can filter color selections across all flooring categories, create a color palette and browse products while saving and sharing their products along the way. “It’s really a tool for both consumers and retailers because dealers who use the app in store can help her more quickly and easily find the product and solution she needs which helps build trust in that salesperson.”
To get dealers on board with all its new digital offerings and showcase why they are “awesome” Shaw went out of its way by giving each member of its flooring network an iPad mini fully loaded with Floorvana, and all else that is Shaw, plus the book, “Decoding the New Consumer Mind,” written by keynote speaker, Kit Yarrow, an award-winning consumer psychologist and author.
Merritt rightfully noted giving out over 900 of the devices was no small deal but it was the company’s way of proving to dealers it is serious about helping them connect with today’s—and tomorrow’s—consumer. “There is so much information to absorb at these events and when they get back to their day-to-day dealings they tend to forget a lot of it. So one of the reasons we gave them the iPads was so they had it all at their fingertips when they are home. Plus, it’s a way for our salespeople to help coach them when they visit their stores because we are taking the time and resources to address the needs of the consumer and helping our retailers be their first choice for buying their new floors.”
The iPads were a major hit at the show as numerous attendees could not contain their excitement and were overheard calling home or work about it. Shaw even had tech consultants at convention to help retailers get started or learn more about what the device can do and the lines were constantly long as attendees clamored to learn more.
While technology was certainly a big part of the SFN convention, product was still front and center and Shaw did not disappoint as it officially unveiled its LifeGuard Carpet Protection System, which incorporates a patented backing commercial system, that keeps liquids from seeping into the backing making it easier to clean and offering protection against odor-causing spills—including pet accidents.
“Some carpets promise protection against liquid spills and other accidents, including those caused by pets but they don’t address the reality of what really happens when spills occur. Liquids still soak through the carpet backing and spread, leaving stains and potential odors,” says Trey Thames, vice president of residential marketing and product management.
Treated with Shaw’s patented R2X Stain and Soil Resistance System, the collection’s styles already boast an exceptional level of liquid stain resistance, he noted, but the patented LifeGuard backing “provides an unprecedented additional level of protection. LifeGuard also greatly reduces wicking of stains and offers consumers the luxury of more time to discover and clean up spills.”
Shaw used a variety of demonstrations to prove how the technology works and is providing its aligned dealers with demo kits for them to use in-store.
At the CCA Global Partners convention held a couple of weeks before the SFN convention, the new backing system was showcased and Charlie Dilks, chief product officer, called it a “game changer. So much work has been done on stain resistance and cleaning but most liquids go through the surface before the consumer even gets a towel. We feel others will be chasing Shaw on this [technology].”
Also in carpet, the company put its Tuftex brand front and center by making it the brand to carry the Stainmaster PetProtect flag. Doug Jackson, Tuftex’ vice president of sales and marketing, said 10 products in a dedicated display make up the initial offering and that it was a “major center of attraction” for dealers coming to see what was new from Shaw’s California division.
“Stainmaster has done a great job of making consumers aware of the benefits of its PetProtect fiber and combined with the fashion-forward looks that Tuftex is known for this is a real winner in combining what the consumer wants in her product—style and performance.”
Not to be outdone, Shaw’s hard surfaces division launched an array of products in wood, laminate, tile and especially LVT with its new enhanced vinyl plank, Floorté, a 100% waterproof collection that when combined with Shaw’s other LVT offerings—5th & Main, Array and Quarry—give dealers a selection they “can be confident that they are representing products that are the best-tested, best-designed luxury vinyl floors in the industry,” said Carr Newton, category manager of luxury vinyl and laminate.
Scott Sandlin, Shaw’s vice president of hard surfaces, said whether it is the new Floorté or the company’s Epic hardwood, which “is the single largest engineered wood line in the U.S., which is why we’re doubling its facility, we have been working really hard to become the customer’s first choice in hard surface.”
He noted the company “wants to be a leader in every category it is in and we are providing both the products and the service to be just that. Our game has really stepped up in this area and with these latest introductions retailers will be really pleased with what they see.”