They seemed a nice enough couple. They said they were planning on doing a kitchen remodel and took about an hour of your time in your showroom. They asked for specification sheets. They took the time to write down model numbers. They even typed various product information into their tablets right in front of you. Then they said they’d be back with you once they had finalized their plans.

The problem is that hypothetical showroom might never get the sale. It may have been a victim of the phenomenon called “showrooming.”

Some manufacturers and showroom pros took advantage of the recent Design & Construction Week festivities (the newly co-located Kitchen & Bath Industry Show and International Builders’ Show) in Las Vegas to take part in a panel discussion on showrooming during the American Supply Association’s Showroom Managers Networking Council Breakfast.

The experts said the Internet — along with the advent of smartphones, tablets and other portable Internet devices — is allowing consumers to easily shop prices on plumbing products, leading to lost sales through brick-and-mortar outlets.

Michael Werner, chief executive officer of Gerber, called showrooming the latest wave in retail and noted it’s up significantly over 2012, with 58% of smartphone owners saying they showroom. “Fifty percent of shoppers said they’d switch [their purchase to] if the price were five percent cheaper,” Werner notes.

Kallista Business Development Manager Sal Cianciolo said his company limits the number of online outlets for its products and has an Internet minimum advertised price policy that sees none of the company’s products discounted more than 25% from list.

Veronica Money is the showroom manager for Welker-McKee (a division of Hajoca). She said it’s easy for a seasoned showroom person to tell when customers are showrooming. It’s also relatively easy to recapture the sale.

“We build trust with them by giving them information,” she said. “Then you can see an ‘aha!’ moment because you have the knowledge. We try to get to the point where we’re guiding them and produce information that will help us close the deal.”

Ferguson’s National Showroom Manager, Kate Bailey, suggested showrooming isn’t a new phenomenon; it’s just that online sources are a new form of competition.

“We don’t have a strong position for or against showrooming,” Bailey said. “Consumers have the power of choice. We aspire to be the best place to see products and work to provide world-class customer service. The showrooming challenge we face today is only going to make us stronger.”


And the winners are…

ASA was the winner of the Storehouse of World Vision’s Partner of the Year honor during the 14th Annual Crystal Vision Awards Breakfast at KBIS.

“ASA is proud to receive the Storehouse’s ‘Partner of the Year’ honor,” ASA Executive Vice President Mike Adelizzi said. “ASA member companies have been able to provide a positive impact on the lives of children and their families in need through their valuable contributions of time, effort and much-needed household items to the Storehouse of World Vision. ASA and its members will continue to support The Storehouse’s efforts to help these individuals reach their full potential.”

Storehouse of World Vision also honored Jason International with its Crystal Vision Award. Since 2003, Jason, a luxury hydrotherapy products manufacturer, has donated baths and bath products to Storehouse of World Vision, which aids low-income families across the U.S. The Crystal Vision award is given annually to a kitchen or bath manufacturer with a commitment to supplying products to Storehouse.

A number of plumbing-related manufacturers were the winners of Best of KBIS 2014 awards. Delta’s Temp20 technology won the Best of Bath gold honor, while TOTO’s Neorest 750H dual-flush toilet won a Best of Bath silver award.

On the IBS side, Quick Drains’ decorative channel drain was the recipient of the Best Bath Product award, while Bollente Co.’s Trutankless tankless water heater earned the Best Home Technology product honor.

Design & Construction Week featured more than 1,700 exhibitors covering more than 650,000 sq. ft. of floor space at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The combined conventions attracted more than 75,000 registrants.

“The consensus of KBIS participants was that the show was the best in several years,” noted industry veteran Peter Schor, a senior advisor to the National Association of Plumbing Showroom Professionals, which held several well-attended events at Harrah's Las Vegas Hotel and Casino.


New at Design & Construction Week

See the photo gallery above for a close-up look at the latest from Design & Construction Week 2014.


Dual-flush toilet

TOTO’s Neorest 750H with Actilight offers a cleansing system that combines flushing and cleaning technologies to prevent, purify and control both visible and invisible waste. This ultra-high-efficiency dual-flush toilet uses 1.0 gal. for a full flush and 0.8 gal. for a light flush. The unit features an inclusive height, rising 17” from base to seat top.


Water heater

Bollente Co.’s Trutankless tankless water heater provides endless hot water on demand for an entire household. It also integrates with home-automation systems and has its own app that allows homeowners to control water temperature to within 1° F, obtain service notifications and monitor usage from mobile devices. 

Bollente Co.

Digital temperature display

Delta Faucet unveils its lastest bathroom innovation with Temp2O technology, a digital temperature display featuring LED color indicators to signal different water-temperature ranges for easy, visual indication. The new technology gives consumers convenience and peace of mind by knowing the temperature of their shower or bath before getting in. This new offering will be available on a variety of hand showers, showerheads and tub showers beginning this spring.

 Delta Faucet 

All-in-one tap

The InSinkErator 3N1 model of the All-in-One tap combines a contemporary mixer tap with an instant hot-water dispenser to provide unfiltered cold and hot water, or filtered, near-boiling water on the spot. Available finishes include chrome and brushed steel, and the faucet includes a five-year, in-home, full-service limited warranty. The 3N1 faucet must be paired with the company’s stainless-steel Instant Hot Water Tank and Water Filtration System or its high-performance steaming-hot water tank.




Author info: Jack Sweet is the editor of Reeves Journal, a Supply House Times sister publication. Nadia Askar contributed to this report.