Top 5 merchandising tips for bamboo/cork flooring

Place the products correctly

Joanie Beazley, residential sales manager, Carpet One Floor & Home, Asheville, NC, places cork floors centrally at her location. “Having your display at the front of the store is a great way to showcase a flooring product that not everyone initially thinks of,” she explained. “With so many types of floors to choose from, it is imperative that our showroom provides our customers with an easy shopping experience. I like the location because it doesn’t get lost in all the hardwood or laminate and almost all customers have to walk past it.”

For maximum effect, experts encourage retailers to have a sustainable resource section for products such as bamboo and cork flooring. “Since cork floors are now transitioning into many different types of flooring, I recommend placing it in an area with the strongest features — especially cork’s latest features that offer both wood planks and concrete and mosaic tiles with high-resolution visuals,” said Vern Verkley, president of Opus Floors Canada. “Because end users are not aware of these new breakthroughs in new, exciting visuals, it is critical that stores showcase these new products in an appropriate space.”

Others recommend a different approach. “Positioning the products near traditional hardwoods is the most effective way within a retail location,” said Derek Brooks, Senior Vice President, Sales and Business Development, North America, Torlys.

Steve Wagner, marketing director of Wellmade Performance Flooring, agreed. “I recommend positioning tightly woven bamboo as an exotic hard-surface floor—with an eco-friendly edge—alongside other engineered hardwood products,” he explained. “Over the years, the structure of bamboo floors has continued to evolve. This puts Wellmade’s newest HDPC/SPC strand bamboo completely in the hybrid flooring category, making it completely waterproof and dimensionally stable.”

put it down

Standard displays and traditional merchandisers aren’t the only way to showcase bamboo and cork floors, experts note. Highlighting the products in their natural habitat (on the floor!) is the right choice. “Installing a section of bamboo flooring on your showroom floor is a great way to prove the material’s resilience,” noted Cali’s Jackson.

The same principle applies to cork floors, note suppliers. “By experiencing the comfort of cork underfoot compared to other surfaces, a customer can feel and hear the difference between cork and other products,” said Tina Crossland, National Sales Manager, WE Cork. “It certainly helps to sell it.”

It’s a practice that others, including Torlys’ Brooks, wholeheartedly support. “We always promote to put the product on the showroom floor; when consumers walk over a product like cork, they immediately feel the benefits.”

If retailers are concerned about the extra cost (or floor space) required to highlight products like cork or bamboo showroom floors, suppliers can help lighten the burden. “Manufacturers love to have their floors installed and displayed in showrooms,” noted Wellmade’s Wagner. “In fact, most manufacturers offer allowances designed to offset the cost of installing their best-selling products up front.”

Use all tools

It sounds rudimentary, but age-old sales tools like swatches, board samples, sales catalogs, and literature still work. This can be especially helpful and instructive when demonstrating the performance characteristics of a product like cork. “With samples and props that users have on hand to touch and feel, people demonstrate the incredible noise reduction, comfort and warmth properties that cork floors naturally exhibit,” stated Verkley of Opus Floors.

The same can be said for bamboo floors. Proponents strongly recommend using room scenes/lifestyle photos that can be framed as large format posters and as window decorations for showrooms. In addition, interactive devices such as QR codes are emerging as a popular marketing tool. These easy-to-use codes can be linked directly to manufacturers’ websites where they are paired with advanced room visualization technology. “Make sure you take advantage of these tools and technologies,” Wagner added.

But perhaps the most effective learning tool is using the right story when selling green products. “We have customers who are specifically looking for cork floors, but others come in without thinking about it until we explain why it’s such a great floor,” said Carpet One’s Beazley, referring specifically to the WE Cork brand. “Not only is it durable, but it’s comfortable underfoot, helps with insulation, and has a look that will suit any home.”

Be creative

While the traditional way of presenting flooring products can be very effective at capturing customer attention, it is by no means the only way to make a statement. Experts encourage retailers to be creative when highlighting cork and bamboo by using their imaginations.

For example, Verkley of Opus Floors, who has just toured the country visiting key retail customers, noticed how dealers are using audio/visual technology to demonstrate the various features of cork floors. “Creative methods that many dealers are now starting to adopt are large TV screens or computer monitors to show rotating room scenes of the new high-resolution images possible on both wood plank and tile formats,” he explained.

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