This is a guest post from Carolynn Pitcher Brescka of Building Supply Online Services.
Online Sales Are Just Getting Started in Building Materials
Shopping online is no longer just for airline tickets and shoes. Ordering products online is the way we live our lives. We expect to find EVERYTHING available to us ONLINE even building supplies – from screws to drywall, to steel beams, to tools, to ….fill in the blank. If it is physically needed on a job site I can assure you that it can be located online, ordered online, paid for online, and picked up by that customer or delivered to that customer. Being able to order products online is not seen as a perk or luxury by your customers it is EXPECTED.
- 70% of online consumers expect to see available products on your website
- 50% of consumers expect to purchase online and pick up in-store
- Over 50% of all online purchases are now made via your mobile device
- Half of all web traffic comes from mobile devices
These e-commerce numbers have no interest in retreating; these numbers are screaming growth.
The New First Impression Is Based on Your Online Presence, Not Your Brick and Mortar
Think about this: when was the last time you got in your car and drove to a building supply dealer and sat in the parking lot just looking at the storefront. Then you drove back home without ever going in and THEN got online to look at that same store to learn more? Hopefully, you have answered NEVER. Now think of how you buy online. You look up that dealer or manufacturer online, and you read about them. You get detailed information online regarding their products offered and you make your own first impression of that company by their web presence and by what type of shopping conveniences they are offering you via their website. Your key to success as consumer habits evolve online: Improve your customer’s overall shopping experience by giving them the option to order and purchase products online and add to, or improve, your current brick and mortar services offered.
The Rise of the Digitally Enabled Customer
With trends consistently moving towards the customer’s preference to make purchases online and via mobile devices, it is becoming more and more clear that the customer will make purchases based on when it is convenient for them. E-Commerce has become the primary customer engagement channel and the primary choice to educate and make purchases online.
Building supply retailers and manufacturers need to ask themselves this question: If you currently are not offering your products online, then what do you think happens when one of your contractors or customers is ready to make a purchase at 10 pm on a Tuesday? Where do you think they are ordering their supplies from? Answer: They are ordering from the supplier/distributor that offers that same product available online to purchase right then and there. If customers can’t find it quickly and efficiently on your site, they move on to whoever can. Trust me when I say customer loyalty only runs as deep as the in-store services and online products you are offering.
Now or Never Scenario to the Building Products Industry
The key e-Commerce trends of today present a now-or-never scenario to building product suppliers and building product manufacturers. Either respond effectively to them or fall permanently behind. Gone are the days when “John and Suzy Best-Customer” show up at 7 am at the local building products dealer to drink lousy coffee and shoot the bull while waiting to load up their pick-up truck with supplies.
Remember, your online presence is your customer’s new first impression. Here are a few action items you can do now to start creating that balance between your brick-and-mortar store and your online presence:
E-commerce– E-commerce brings your products into your customer’s office or kitchen or warehouse, or where ever they do business and gives them the freedom to purchase products when they need to. By offering your products online, it unifies your in-store and online experience.
Responsive Design– a responsive design ensures that your current website is optimized for all devices. This means that I can look at your website on my phone, my tablet, my laptop, etc. still have a consistent design and can easily make a purchase or browse through your website.
Developing an online plan and creating your online store is now necessary to stay relevant in an ever-changing online world. Your online presence is about seamlessly connecting your online and off-line sales channels so your customers experience a unified experience and can access information quickly and easily when they need it. It does not matter what you are selling. It matters how visible and accessible your products are online and how clearly and consistently you are getting your brand and company message out to your customers.
Thanks to my guest writer, Carolynn Pitcher Brescka is the founder of Building Supply Online Services.
Carolynn has long been an e-commerce advocate and consultant within the building products industry working with manufacturers, suppliers and distributors helping them realize their online potential. By designing and implementing a custom e-commerce solution’s for clients, Carolynn’s goal is to help companies within the building products sector grow their online business and help them capitalize on this high-growth sales channel. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org