How eCommerce can Increase In Store and Online Sales
Graham O’Rourke, CEO of Aphix discusses how Builders Merchants’ can now utilise eCommerce technology to enhance in store experiences and improve business processes.
Today, builders’ merchants face the increasing challenge of managing extensive product inventories in a bid to offer their customers the best range of products available, to remain competitive. This is also in addition to complex customer-specific and quantity-based pricing within the sales process that requires a large amount of data management and alignment.
As the UK and Ireland construction industry steadily begins to climb, post-pandemic, the cost of living crisis and economic downturn is heavily impacting buying decisions of large and small building contractors, developers and tradesmen. Often the best price wins, but where expertise and loyalty play a factor, often within the trade counter experience, builders’ merchants have an opportunity to face these challenges with the help of eCommerce and App solutions.
Reaching customers remotely through out-of-the-box marketing functionality can bring a personalised experience to customers through targeted marketing messages based on factors such as time of year, season, new products, and buyer preferences. The ability to offer promotions, related products and sale information with direct links to products has resulted in average order values for many merchants.
Critically, the most important element of eCommerce solutions is the data source and management of customer information. B2B eCommerce is traditionally complex due to the nature of customer-specific information and pricing, in addition to quantities, stock and delivery schedules
Often, multiple technology platforms are utilised such as ERP or back-office systems, finance, stock and delivery management. Some of which are built in different technology languages, hosted on-premise and some in the cloud (referred to as SaaS solutions). This disconnected technology is what often sits behind a poor customer experience, duplication of data, incorrect or missing information, resource-heavy manual processing and costly errors
An eCommerce solution that directly integrates with back-office systems and ERP offers a single source of information for both merchant and customer, streamlining the process. ERP integrated solutions present huge efficiency savings for merchants’.
Move to the cloud
Cloud-based technology, rather than on-premise software, also enables future scalability and growth. When managing hundreds of stores all across the country, a technology that can be easily accessed, rolled out and upgraded is key for efficiency. In addition, the security protocols that come with best-in-class, cloud-based eCommerce offers resilience and reassurance to customers.
eCommerce doesn’t signify the end of face-to-face sales and customer experiences, it can actually enhance it. As many industries experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of trade moved online and those businesses that adapted to this situation were able to continue trading without disruption.
It has also shown many sectors that their customers are willing to purchase online, or combine both elements as we’ve seen with click & collect services that were critical at times during lockdowns.
The last two years have exposed gaps in many business processes but also presents many opportunities. It is these opportunities where eCommerce can help the builders’ merchant industry really move forward at pace.