In recent years, buying groups and even manufacturer-aligned organizations have been trumpeting to retailers the notion of product diversification. For professional flooring dealers the concept of production diversification really is nothing new, as you have been doing it far more than you think—though until now 99% of it has been strictly within the flooring industry.
If one just looks at it from a flooring perspective its easy to see how much a retailer’s showroom has diversified over the years. Additionally, around 30 years ago smart retailers branched a little outside the flooring industry by including window treatments in their store. The thought being if Mrs. Consumer is redoing her living room floor, chances are she is redoing the whole room so why not offer her shades and/or blinds that match the flooring she is purchasing?
Beyond products, some dealers—especially contractors—have added flooring maintenance as a way to hold onto a customer throughout a product’s lifecycle. Some have also added a shop-at-home service by having a custom van stocked as a mobile showroom.
Things are rapidly changing as buying groups and aligned organizations are leading the charge to get their members to diversify way beyond flooring and into products and categories that are not only foreign to them but until now have been left to other dealers/industries. These include such items as kitchen and bath (K&B) cabinets, countertops and fixtures; decorative throw pillows; stylish picture frames; a selection of paint; closet organizers and more.
While the progressive, smart and successful dealers are mostly jumping in after learning about the potential opportunities that exist for these newer categories, there are still those retailers who are holding out and wondering why they should make the investment—and in some cases it can be a large sum—into an area in which they have never been involved.
It’s very simple, actually. In today’s fast-paced, non-stop world, consumers (especially millennials, who will be your main customer sooner than you think) want to have everything at their fingertips. In addition, because of the Internet, today’s consumers are smarter than ever but they are also misled and confused due to the amount of contrasting information found online.
As such, they are looking to the professional retailer to help them make the right choice so the products not only match their decorative choices but also fit their lifestyle.
Retailers who have already made the leap into other categories such as K&B are reporting nothing but successes. Numerous buying groups have even set up educational classes—both in the store and online—to help make the process as pain-free as possible.
While some of the areas you are being asked to expand into are intimidating and may seem unnecessary, that is a natural feeling whenever asked to venture into new waters. Instead of clinging to the old ways of doing business and fighting those who are trying to get you to branch into areas of unfamiliarity, it’s time to embrace these changes and make yourself the kind of store your current—and future—customers are seeking.