In today’s fast-paced, tech-driven world, you either have to keep up with the latest digital trends or get left behind. Builders merchanting can be viewed as fairly traditional; customers enter your branch to buy products for a building or DIY project, enjoy a bit of banter across the trade counter and soon become regular customers. It all sounds very straight-forward. So, why the need to change a system that’s already working perfectly fine? You may be surprised how the addition of technology could actually benefit your builder merchant business, from internal processes and efficiency to sales and customer experience.
Did you know that 81% of customers research products online before buying? Today, almost everyone has a device at their fingertips that offers them endless options of shops, restaurants, clothes, holidays and more. It is more and more common for customers to reach for their smartphone before making a purchase to compare their options for the best products, price and service on the market. So, what if your branch isn’t taking pride of place online? With nowhere to view your branch location, product range or contact details, it is likely your tech-savvy customer will soon find an alternative elsewhere, meaning less sales for you. By having a regularly updated website featuring your latest products and offers, customers can browse products online quickly and easily, with accessible online forms if they have any questions. They can also find all branch contact details like an address and telephone number if they wish to complete an order instore face-to-face. Having a live chat feature is also a great way to enable easy communication for potential customers. It’s a quick and easy way to answer customer questions while at the same time building a good relationship from the very beginning.
Customer service nowadays doesn’t only mean an excellent experience through face-to-face communication. Great service can take many forms, including (surprise!) online customer service. Something as simple as responding to queries quickly and efficiently online could put you above your competitors as a business that prioritises their customers. These small stages of the customer buying process will slowly build a positive reputation for your business. Remember, if a customer is unhappy with their experience, the first place they are most likely to go to express it is on the internet, so any activities that happen within the branch are now on display for all to see online, good or bad!
Social media is another great tool to build your brand and give your branch a bit of personality. Customers are just as interested in outstanding service and business reputation as they are with a great product, and social media could be your key to building this. Uploading and sharing fun, relatable content can make your business stand out amongst others, as can informative and helpful blog posts or videos showcasing common customer problems and how your business can offer a solution. Social media is today’s easiest way to advertise, and why not promote your company in a place where your customers spend the majority of their time? The best part, it’s free! Great content can be posted publicly within minutes – simply snap in store, caption and share online for your existing and potential customers to see.
In the know
Platforms like LinkedIn allow you to connect with people who have similar interests or work within similar industries, allowing you to network and find new customers. If your staff are present online, it is likely they will be able to gain industry knowledge more effectively from different sources and be able to keep up with the latest industry trends, tailoring instore promotions accordingly.
Improve your processes
Better technology can improve internal processes and efficiencies too. Save paper with instant invoicing by email and make the overall buying process more efficient and easier to track. New technology can help your internal process run a lot smoother too. Simple tools like online shared calendars, stock management software and data collection can share workloads among team members and save time by improving efficiency. Plus, if you are collecting customer data then you are able to offer relevant products based on previous individual purchases.
It’s clear to see the benefits of technology for builders merchanting, but is there a negative side to it all? Some may argue that technology can lead to loss of face to face relationship building and communication, as more and more customers use digital channels to contact companies, or online websites to make their purchases. It’s a fair point, but technology is progressing faster each day and there isn’t much we can do about it. For the sake of your business, it’s definitely beneficial to stay ahead of the game by trying new ways to use technology to your advantage, no doubt helping you advertise, network and sell online.