Buying behaviors are changing amongst many industries, including building materials. This shift has made the Internet a preferred choice, not only for research but also for purchasing. Contractors and consumers alike expect suppliers to keep up or risk losing business.
Amazon Business has taken notice of this shift and is making the building materials buyer its core focus. According to a report by Applico, Amazon Business reported $10 billion in total sales in 2018, $6 billion of which came from maintenance, repair, and operations supply—their leading category. To put it in perspective, Amazon Business is already fourth in MRO revenue. With their current forecast, Amazon Business the number one industrial distributor in the U.S. by 2023.
As the building materials landscape changes, suppliers need to take notice and work to meet their buyer's digital expectations in order to remain competitive. Consider the following as you start or expand your building materials eCommerce business.
To have a successful building materials eCommerce business, you need to consider the visitor's intentions and how they wish to experience your site. Being able to predict their actions and offer an easy-to-navigate website experience makes shopping much more enjoyable and data shows this creates a loyal customer who will ultimately purchase more.
To create this type of easy eCommerce you need to have the appropriate technology and user experience/design in place to meet both your customer and internal team's needs. Construction Specialties partnered with Echidna to implement Oracle Commerce Cloud and design a digital presence that delights customers with modern website experiences to browse, configure, request a quote, and purchase the products needed to complete construction projects, whether sitting at their desk on using mobile. Their new site also allows internal business users to more easily do their jobs in supporting customers efficiently.
Top considerations for building materials eCommerce websites include:
Finding what you need online is becoming easier every day. How-to guides and videos are nearly everywhere you look on any niche topic, including the building materials industry. With all the information online, it's important that in your category and with your products you set yourself apart, become a thought-leader, and offer relevant content that keeps your buyers and potential buyers coming in.
As more people are researching and purchasing building supplies on the Internet you can set your brand apart with a well-categorized grouping of DIY and installation videos. Drawing buyers to your site can be as simple as offering them expertise in what they are looking to accomplish. Top building materials companies have started YouTube channels for how-to installment videos and are keeping up with their social media with similar postings. Both are excellent outlets to drive site traffic and grow customer engagement.
When posting these types of videos consider your viewer. Being able to watch the video and then scroll or link directly to the supplies mentioned is an excellent way to drive transactions. If they need to purchase the part, why not from you and make it as easy as possible?
Embedding any video also gives your site an SEO boost, which will make it easier for you to be found. Studies also show that videos can improve conversion rates upwards of 80%. Videos personalize and humanize the brand, uplifting customer confidence to help them decide on your business for their purchase.
Construction Specialties boasts a video library that is well categorized and easy for visitors to find exactly what they are looking for.
A recent BCG study found that up to 70% of B2B search queries are made via a mobile device. That means in order to remain competitive you need to have not only a user-friendly website but an easy-to-navigate mobile experience. That could mean a responsive website, progressive web app, native mobile app- or a combination of these options. Whatever route you decide to go, your buyers need to be able to seamlessly move through the purchasing funnel and transact on whatever device they wish.
Consider your typical contractor. They are typically not behind a desk all day, but working on job sites. Being able to use their mobile can help them avoid downtime, so they appreciate and value accessibility, availability, and convenience above all else. If their equipment goes down, they want the parts they need as soon as possible, not waiting to order when they are back to the office. Customers everywhere appreciate a business that can reliably be there for them when they need them. Offering a mobile experience that makes working with you faster than a phone call will keep contractors coming back again and again.
Read how Construction Specialties doubled online product revenue after they reimagined their digital shopping experience.
Contactors are changing their behaviors, increasingly looking to digital options to fill their needs. At Echidna, we are working with clients to help them implement thoughtful digital strategies around building materials eCommerce that complement their current sales channels. Our team of experts would love to learn more about your business and gain your competitive edge in eCommerce.