It can be difficult for a builders’ merchant to attract and retain customers. Margins are thin, and luring price-conscious buyers takes more than a sign in the driveway. But with the right strategy, merchants can stand out in a crowded marketplace, maximizing profits, minimizing costs, and keeping stocks in line with customer needs.
In preparation for the release of Buildiro 2.0 later this summer, we’ve been talking with a lot of merchants to understand what they consider keys to increasing sales. While there are plenty of different approaches, here are five of the most frequently cited.
While many builders’ merchants are investing in online advertising to bring more customers to their websites, customers’ online experience is not always well optimized. For instance, stock availability in an e-commerce site doesn’t always pair with stock on shelves, a deficiency that can be frustrating for builders arriving at a brick-and-mortal store expecting to quickly source materials.
This may be the greatest benefit of Buildiro. Because merchants supply us with a simple and secure XML feed of their inventory, our database reflects on-the-shelf reality. When a builder searches for materials in Buildiro, they are directed to the closet store stocking the required supplies, eliminating the risk of disappointment and increasing customer satisfaction.
By April 2020, all businesses in the United Kingdom must be compliant with Making Tax Digital, a scheme designed to help improve the accuracy of tax filing. According to the UK’s office of revenue and customs, small- and medium-sized enterprises underpay by some £14 billion every year, a tax gap the government is eager to close.
For the building and construction industry, this requirement could be costly. Tradespeople (and many merchants, for that matter) have long avoided digital recordkeeping. A common approach is to photograph paper receipts and invoices, and then transfer digitized images to accountants. Unfortunately, most tools to ease this process are notorious for introducing errors, which leads to significant time wasted in complying with the MTD directive.
Buildiro 2.0 will come configured for this challenge. Any order placed in the app will generate a digital sales ticket that can be automatically uploaded to accounting systems. Not only will this new e-invoicing feature help the industry comply with MTD, it will also close the book on the monthly accounting nightmare.
One of the biggest challenges for any builders’ merchant is stocking sufficient levels of the right materials. According to a 2015 survey by the Hardware Association of Ireland, more than half of builders’ merchants (55%) struggle to keep shelves properly filled, while a staggering 86% have difficulty attracting new business.
One way to overcome these hurdles is with better data. By developing a deep understanding of buyers’ spending habits – information typically gleaned through surveys, focus groups, or social-media analysis – retailers can better prepare and plan ahead. And yet, most research strategies rely heavily on opinion and guesswork. Buildiro takes the guessing out of research.
Every time a tradesman searches for or buys a product via Buildiro, we capture tiny fragments of their spending behavior. With details like quantities of a queried product, or the frequency and location of a search, participating merchants can make informed assumptions about the types of supplies that builders working in a specific postal code might need. This, in turn, can inform marketing strategies and lead to smarter inventory planning.
Anyone with an internet connection and credit card knows that e-commerce is booming. In 2015, 15% of every sale in the United States was made on a mobile device, a percentage that is only expected to grow over the next decade. For merchants in the building trades, an online presence and e-commerce platform is essential, and Buildiro offers a cost-effective way to enter the space. Buildiro never sleeps, meaning that your stock is always available for purchase.
While much of the materials-procurement process is now online, brick-and-mortar stores remain an important display case for merchants. When customers arrive at your store, they must be able to find what they are looking. Good first impressions extend to the level of service; poor service is unlikely to lead to a repeat sale.
Most importantly, though, the online experience needs to integrate into the physical one. When a customer orders online and arrives to pick up their supplies, wait times must be minimal. To that end, Buildiro 2.0 includes a click-and-collect ordering option, which allows shoppers to pay for orders within the app and give merchants an opportunity to prepare materials for speedy pick up.
These strategies are just a few of the tactics that modern merchants can employ to increase sales. With more than 10,000 builders’ merchants in the UK alone, the path to profitability is paved with many obstacles. But with the right tools and a well thought out plan, builders’ merchants can succeed in growing strong and sustainable businesses.
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