Broadlume seeks to change the retail game
By Megan Salzano – Sarasota, Florida – When you hear a carpet trade show, you expect a room full of paradoxically similar products and a dusty story that encourages sales insight. That’s not what Broadlume delivered with FloorCon 2021, which was held here last week.
During the two-day event, 400 attendees were presented with a dealer-first approach with a focus on the customer experience rather than the product and the unveiling of the company’s unique all-in-one platform – heralded as a revolutionary new retail sales system that leverages the online platform. website technology to the in-store experience.
The new end-to-end technology platform aims to enable independent floor dealers to simplify their systems, optimize their marketing investments, increase profits and create the best consumer experience by combining digital technology with in-store technology, including a ready-to-use merchandising “showroom” and in-store visualizer.
To realize the groundbreaking launch of the all-in-one platform, Broadlume has made several strategic acquisitions over the years, each adding a new piece to the puzzle. Those acquisitions include FloorForce (websites), Creating Your Space (websites), Freetail (roomvisualizer) and Retail Lead Management (CRM). In addition, it was announced on the show that RollMaster, a flooring industry software company, had also been acquired by Broadlume.
“For years, this industry has had a lot of software that didn’t work together: ERP systems and apps that worked in silos,” explains Patrick Ferries, COO of RollMaster. “Now you can have it all: the best websites in the business, married to the best visualization in the business, married to the best ERP in the business.”
In addition to a seamless sales system, a key advancement associated with the acquisition of RollMaster is the ability to track and analyze a company’s ROI in digital marketing.
Theril Williams, owner of Floors To Go, Haltom City, Texas, which will onboard the entire Broadlume platform, noted that this acquisition alone represents an unprecedented boon for business. “You get data on your ROI in terms of your digital marketing, which wasn’t possible before,” he explained. “I probably waste half my money on marketing, but I just don’t know which half it is. This is going to make the difference.”
While Broadlume’s powerful technology tools have made a name for themselves in the industry in recent years, it’s also the new shopping experience that grabbed the attention of the show. For the first time in flooring, the company said, consumers can start their journey online and track it directly in-store, where Broadlume’s sales system and advanced visualization tools can help consumers continue their journey.
“We’ve heard from many dealers that consumers are having a great experience online, but it doesn’t match what’s in their showroom,” said Broadlume CEO Todd Saunders. FCNews. “We realized that the platform doesn’t stop with the technology; it extends into the store.”
The in-store vending system is twofold: a Broadlume curated and designed merchandising display with four private label brands – Paradiso, Doma, Newton and Proximity Mills – and an advanced product visualizer.
“With the private labeling system, you add more value to the customer and it helps protect the dealer in terms of margins – to me that’s the biggest added value to this whole thing,” explains Floors To Go’s Williams. “And it pays off for both the dealer and the manufacturer, because if we can narrow our showroom to fewer choices, we become more important to the manufacturers we do business with.”
Vendors present at FloorCon 2021 said: FCNews that Broadlume brings something new to the industry with a unique approach that benefits all parties. “Their agenda is not to sell products,” said Tyler Geren, CEO of Bella Flooring, one of the first suppliers to sign up for the private-label program. “Their agenda is to build dealers a technology platform that helps them succeed. They do just that. And the digital side of things is a differentiator.”
On the supplier relations side, Geren added: “We worked with them and they worked with us. A two-way street has been created and that ensures that all of this runs smoothly. Immediately after the samples were out and the onboarding took place, the orders started coming in. With the group they have now, that has increased tenfold and every month we see increases.”
While Broadlume seemingly wants to connect the shopping experience from the point of contact through product purchase, Saunders and the Broadlume team made it clear during the show that the platform should not be confused with other labels. “Broadlume is not a manufacturer, Broadlume is not a supplier and Broadlume is not a buying group. What we are is a technology platform. But we want to be more than just a platform. We want to be a partner for the entire flooring industry. A partner that works with retailers like you and great manufacturers to help the flooring industry thrive in this new digital world we all find ourselves in.”
Dealers weigh in
It’s safe to say that the dealer community that attended FloorCon 2021 is more than ready to embrace the Broadlume platform and the forward momentum – plus the higher sales – it represents in the industry.
“This platform will transform my business,” said Floors To Go’s Williams. “It will transform the industry and make those who don’t adapt sit up and notice that they are falling behind. [Broadlume is the first company] who actually drove active leads, rang my phone and helped people walk through the door, and that’s all I’ve asked of a marketing company. That’s a big deal.”
For LG Kramer, Lakewood Ranch, Florida, which will be taking over the entire Broadlume platform in its current showroom, as well as a new store it plans to open in 2022, the digital assets alone are a big draw. “It has made our lives so much easier,” owner Lance Kramer told FCNews. “It’s a great idea. Last year was the first year we broke $1 million, and we wouldn’t have done so well — especially from COVID-19 — with our old system. We probably wouldn’t have survived if we had used our old system with our old routine. Now we take everything – the whole [Broadlume] package. That’s how strongly we believe in it.”
Denise Heath, co-owner of Heath Flooring Concepts, Dallas, Georgia, said she saw Broadlume’s momentum years ago and was excited to be at FloorCon 2021 to see the platform come together firsthand. “Floors are something that, for the most part, people have yet to see, touch and feel. But I think because of the pandemic and with the younger generations entering the market, we need to make that transition online. This helps us bridge that gap for the new consumer – for the next generation. I think you will see the dealers willing to go with this platform really fly past the competition. It’s going to make a huge difference to those of us who are willing to take the next step.”
For Sally Perron, co-owner of 24-7 Floors, Sarasota, Florida, who also has the entire Broadlume platform on board, it’s not just about what the comprehensive package can offer the company, but how it makes the company itself can make it more attractive. “What’s talked about a lot in this industry is the difficulty that everyone has in hiring people. This is definitely a leg up. I love the fact that it’s going to attract a whole new space for us – hiring and inspiring new young students coming in from school, because it’s going to be exciting to work in floors.”
Perron added that the platform can also easily lend itself to expansion and help the industry re-grow its dealer base. “I think if we follow the system as closely as we can and train our employees on that system, it will be much easier in the future for an owner like me to open a second store. Then I think it’s going to be easier to duplicate and keep duplicating.”
For Jason Potts, owner of RIC Flooring in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, which will take on the entire Broadlume program, the platform is a real difference maker. “To run a business, you need a lot. One of those things is the products. The reps in my area are 60-70 years old and they don’t want me to compete with their best friend down the street. I will have the entire Broadlume kit and kaboodle by Jan 1st and I will be the best dog in my area soon enough. This is 100% what’s going to get me there.”
The show must go on and Broadlume expects next year’s event to be even more gripping than this year’s edition. If dealer sentiment is anything to judge, 2022 will continue to see success for FloorCon. Most dealers agreed, FloorCon 2021 was a refreshing evolution of the show where the focus was unmistakably on the flooring business.
“Other shows are quite repetitive,” Potts told RIC Flooring FCNews. “Some have no real agenda other than selling products. And it’s all sales pitches from suppliers who have been doing this in the same building for 30 years. Nothing has changed. i want new. I am very happy that FloorCon has come about. I’m really excited that this event was more about education and networking, which is huge. This was a great learning experience.”
Rachel Berlin, sales manager at Precision Floors & Décor, Sheboygan, Wis., agreed that FloorCon 2021 brought something extra to the table. “It’s like a personal invitation to something bigger than the rest of the industry. You can go to other shows, but this is something special.”
Dealers also agreed that this was the first event that brought forward-thinking dealers with a view to the future together in the same space and enabled them to not only embrace technology, but use it to improve their business. “You have to be progressive to bring yourself here,” explains Michelle Winters, co-owner of Texas-based New Braunfels Flooring. “To be immersed in that caliber of person is inspiring – many of the people who are here will be the next great leaders. I think this event will mark a definite ‘before and after’ in the industry.”