Many of today’s consumer are shopping online. Children of the Baby Boomers, these shoppers were born in the late 1970’s through about 1990.  They’re often referred to as “Millennials’, or “Echo Boomers”.

Millennials are the first generation to grow up with computers in their homes.  In a 1999 speech, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates encouraged America’s teachers to use technology to serve the needs of this new online generation. And, they did.

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The Millennial generation is now between 24 and 37 years old

Now these Millennials are adults with buying power, and they’ve turned their parent’s idea of shopping upside down.  We’re just beginning to realize the impact.

The Rug Retailer’s Old Reality :

1) Customer finds a reputable dealer nearby, visits the showroom and considers their selection.

2) Customer chooses a rug they like and buy it.

3) A relationship is established and the customer goes back and buys more rugs from their new favorite store.

Lately, inside my own showroom, I’m seeing something different.

The Rug Retailer’s New Reality:

1) A customer comes into the store, and if unaided by a designer, has already been to our website. In fact, they’ve probably surfed the internet and have already found the rug they want on a wholesale site at a rock bottom price.

2) Salesperson greets them and says, “Yes, we have that rug!” The customer looks at the rug, says thank you, goes home and buys the rug online… where they can get it for less.

This has been called “showrooming” and it put Circuit City, among others, out of business.

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Don’t lose your business to online shoppers!

How Rug Dealers Can Meet the Demand of this New Reality:

1) Revamp your online presence:

Last January, we at Fine Rugs of Charleston redesigned our website to showcase classy rooms and inviting graphics.  The mission: intrigue potential customers with the possibilities and make them want to see the rugs in person. Every page on has our phone number, directions, and a map to make it easy to find us.  And, it has worked.

2) Reel the customer in, and convince them to stay:

We can attract the online shopping generation with a good local web presence, but you must work harder than ever to earn their business when they visit your store. Don’t immediately lead them to the exact rug they are asking for.  Let them soak in the vastness of your selection. Give them time to experience all you have to offer.

3) Demonstrate the value of good customer service. 

Remind them that you will deliver the rug to their home, unwrap it and place it exactly where they want it. Educate them on how important it is to care for the rug properly and how your team is there to help keep that rug looking new for as long as they want it to last. 

The Internet doesn’t do that.

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Today’s showroom must draw the customer in, and make them feel like they can’t leave without a new rug for their home!

We must embrace this new online shopping generation. Good customer service is no longer “priceless”. We must compete with the low prices often found on the internet. The “Baby Boomer” rug dealer won’t exist much longer without a warm, welcoming web presence and outstanding customer service.

So, to rug dealers, it’s time to get started. As in, yesterday.

You may also enjoy a related post: What they get for the money.  And, if you’d like the latest rug tips and strategies delivered to your inbox, click here to subscribe to Rob Leahy’s blog.