Visualizing Hardwood

Technology is rapidly impacting the way we do business as an industry. For a recent example of this, look no further than a new collection of engaging, virtual reality design tools by Mannington.

Mannington recently introduced a suite of mobile-friendly, interactive web browser-based tools designed to help make the floor-shopping process more streamlined for both the consumer and the retail salesperson.

The new interactive tools are transforming the buying experience by offering customers the opportunity to see floors in their homes before they purchase. They blur the line between imagination and the real world, and are an example of how the use of new technology can enhance both the customer’s shopping experience and the retailer’s bottom line.

“Consumers are coming around to engineered hardwood, and this gives them the confidence to see what it can look like in their home. Our goal was to help make the shopping process easier for both the retail salesperson and the consumer,” explains Lori Keith, Residential Marketing Director at Mannington.

“Whenever a consumer is online or is in the store looking at samples, the sample is only so big. It’s hard to imagine what that floor will look like in their room. We recognized that one of the keys to closing the sale is helping the consumer visualize the floor. These tools offer a simple way for them to do that.

All they need is their smartphone or tablet,” says Keith.

The browser-based tools Mannington has launched were explicitly designed to have a low barrier for participation. There is no app to download. Users simply visit floors.com/see to fully envision what a customer’s flooring choice looks like in a large space, or they can visit floors.com/myroom to take a picture or upload an existing photo of their room, and very quickly see what that floor will look like in their own home.

“We wanted to make sure the process was simple, as people do not have the time or patience to deal with a frustrating experience. We have had wonderful feedback on how this has changed how sales teams are showing the floors. It has helped people change their minds on what sort of floors to install in their homes,” says Keith.

From attracting customers to improving the purchaser’s overall satisfaction, Keith believes tools like these are imperative in today’s competitive marketplace, as they allow for a genuine experience that resonates with the potential buyer.

“Sales teams are under more pressure to get involved in their prospects’ internal decision-making processes to close more sales. As times change, companies need to adapt to thrive. We are a flooring manufacturer that focuses on the independent retailer. For these tools, we push them toward our retail sales associates to allow them to offer a differentiated experience. If a consumer goes to a big box store, they cannot get that kind of service and engaging experience,” says Keith.

As for the future, Keith says Mannington says there are plans to innovate further once the technology evolves.

“We have future plans for augmented reality once the technology catches up, but as of today, it still looks slightly cartoon-like. So right now, our focus is on creating an engaging experience that is relative to the consumer, easy, and uses the tools they have with them all of the time,” says Keith.

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