If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I’ve written at length about the ongoing and increasing demand for unique window frame colors. Delivering on those demands—which show no sign of slowing into 2021, especially as the residential new construction and renovation markets continue at a red-hot pace—comes with some complexities.
Here are just a few questions window and door manufacturers need to think through:
- How many color options should we offer?
- How will a variety of options impact my inventory?
- What kind of color technology am I going to use?
- How can I ensure color quality is up to my standards?
And as we’ve seen throughout 2020, these kinds of complexities have been exacerbated by the challenges our industry has collectively fought this year. The pandemic has made our shared labor challenges more acute, created major supply chain disruptions, and we’ll be feeling the ripple effects for the foreseeable future.
Launching a new kind of product amidst these conditions might seem daunting—but demand is there, and if you don’t work to meet it, your competition will.
The good news is that offering your customers new vinyl color options can be done successfully, despite our current challenges, with the cooperation and collaboration of a reliable supplier. Here are a few things to think about.
Made to order: consider how many SKUs can you manage
One challenge for manufacturers offering multiple color options is the additional SKUs doing so involves. Let’s say you offer one profile in two color options. Perhaps now you’d like to offer it in another—now you have three SKUs on one profile.
One emerging trend I’ve picked up on recently is an uptick in demand for dual-color-option windows, enabling consumers to choose the color of their exterior and interior. What happens to your SKUs then, if you decide to pursue this trend? From an inventory perspective, things can get out of control in a hurry, and you don’t want to have countless varieties of dual-colored windows sitting around in your warehouse.
Your vinyl supplier won’t be hanging on to all that inventory either—but a good one can help deliver on your needs in step with your demand with a reasonable amount of lead time. When you’re considering new color options, open the conversation with your vinyl supplier to ensure you can both stay nimble.
Cost efficiency: for you and your customers
Everyone throughout the fenestration value chain has been facing an uptick in price pressures this year, and it appears those will continue at least into the first part of 2021. The cost of raw materials has been rising, and amidst heightened demand, prices are inevitably also going to go up.
As window and door makers continue to innovate with color and other features, a balancing act will be necessary to not overburden customers with higher prices. Your suppliers should be able to help you mitigate those increases instead of simply passing them to you.
Color quality: know your color technologies
Branching into new colors involves deciding upon the different technology options that are available. Paint and laminate options have been popular for a while, but both have their downsides. Both methods require additional labor on the plant floor and, depending on the quality of the material, paint and laminate can be susceptible to longevity issues over time, especially in rougher climates.
Advancements in co-extruded vinyl color technology, however, can solve each of those challenges. Co-extrusion means the color becomes an integral part of the profile, delivering significantly enhanced scratch resistance, high durability, and the ability to withstand even the harshest weather conditions. It’s worth remembering here that homeowners expect their investments not to just be attractive, but to hold up for the long term.
Will you be branching out with new color offerings in 2021? I’d love to hear about it, so feel free to email me.