December 18, 2001, 12:00 AM

Mannington launches Virtual Decorator so shoppers can choose floors online

Mannington, a manufacturer of wood, laminate and resilient floors, used a web site survey to identify consumers’ biggest obstacle to buying floor products – now it delivers the solution online.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

One of Mannington Mills’ biggest assets also was one of its biggest problems. The only North American manufacturer of wood, laminate and resilient flooring, it offers a huge selection of options – so many it was tough for consumers to choose. And in addition to competing with each other, Mannington floor products also compete with those of other manufacturers on offer at local flooring and carpet dealers. A consumer survey on the non-transactional Mannington web site identified the problem. “People would walk into a store and be overwhelmed,” says Lori Keith, Internet marketing manager for the Salem, NJ-based company.

Mannington is setting out to change that with a new site tool it launched last month, Virtual Decorator from San Rafael, CA-based technology vendor Scene7. Virtual Decorator allows online users to choose photos of several different room settings and swap out different floor products depicted in the images at the click of a mouse. The tool not only lets users change flooring in the rooms, but also wall, trim, upholstery and drapery colors – with tens of thousands of possible combinations – though Mannington doesn’t manufacture fabric or paint.

“Some of the most frequent e-mails to our designers were from customers who wanted to know how a floor product would look with the colors in their rooms,” says Keith. “Now they can get a sense of that online.” Keith says that while the floor-buying process still requires customers to come into a dealer to buy, the online tool helps them narrow their choices before they get there and helps keep Mannington top of mind when they walk in. Mannington invested about $25,000 in the technology and will measure its ROI in site traffic and usage of the Virtual Decorator tool, Keith adds.




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