This & That by Jonathan Trivers

This & That

Thursday, November 30, 2023

By Jonathan Trivers
The AI craziness is just around the corner. In 2023, we got a glimpse of this new phenomenon. Where it goes is anyone’s guess, especially in the flooring industry. The first place that will be using this is in operations, inventory replenishment and generally, business systems that will be improved using AI. But you can be sure there will be all sorts of AI products (as it were) each quite marvelous and better than the other. But are they? It is the AI products that will be directed toward the retailer’s marketing that make us nervous. Can it really do something in our industry that will help the customer or will it scare her away? We shall see.

It is now confirmed: If every waterproof flooring product that is presently offered to the entire world were installed at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, it would cover the entire Atlantic Ocean floor! OK, when a waterproof carpet is offered….

For many retailers, the key question at the beginning of this year was: Will retail go back to the way it was before COVID or will some things change and stay changed for some time? When stores were forced to close, they didn’t sell for a while (way too long of a time), then sold by going to the consumers home or sold product from their website or some hybrid of that. After all is said and done, will shop-at-home retailing or Internet selling be a more important part of flooring retailer’s strategy?

We are not quite sure how to read the tea leaves. It is one thing to have a business segment grow a little bit but what if shop-at-home and Internet retailing can become 30 percent or more of a retailer’s business due to COVID and the need for convenience? And does this also suggest that Millennials really don’t want to go into your store if they don’t have to?

It is critical for flooring retailers to figure out if and how their customer’s buying habits have changed. The very selling system you will need going forward may well not look much like what you are doing now. The Empire Today model is one thing but we see customers wanting more sell at home opportunities with the knowledge that there is a local physical store. To us, having a store suggests you are real and a great local business. (That might sound counter intuitive, but we don’t think it is.)

We are a selling industry. We are in the business of explaining. Of course she has gone online to find out info, but she still needs to talk to a real person to be sure she knows what she doesn’t know and understands really what the product will look like, etc. That is a very big deal.

We are very proud that there is a product in the marketplace called Triversa. Actual full name: “Congoleum Triversa Prime, Engineered Luxury Vinyl Plank with attached Pad.” (I do come with an attached pad!)

Next year I will turn 80. Yes, I have seen the movie “80 for Brady” but it doesn’t make me feel any better or younger!