July 11, 2022
Most construction companies are well aware of the digital transformation underway. Several building material companies even have plans to disrupt the status quo with new technologies, but there seems to be a disconnect between vision and reality.
According to a recent survey, 84% of companies in the construction industry predict they will sell 100% of their products online in the future while 89% believe that digital technologies will change how they do business. 75% of professionals in the construction sector plan to increase their investment in digital transformation. Notably, 60% of construction companies agreed their industry was already behind others in adopting digital technology.
With the increasing number of modern B2B buyers who have very high expectations for frictionless online ordering and sales, the construction industry is lagging behind to meet and exceed seamless customer expectations. Only 5% in the survey from Sana Commerce stated that their online experience on construction eCommerce sites was problem-free. One of the main challenges for the building materials industry is maintaining and growing supplier relationships. Other issues identified were lack of data visibility, inaccurate dates and over-engineered re-order systems, lack of payment methods and complicated check-out processes.
Digital selling helps improve relationships with customers and suppliers because it means buyers can self-serve whenever, wherever and whatever they need. There are no restrictions on specific opening hours for call centers or physical stores.
There’s nothing worse than trying to order a product that is not in stock. Buyers need to be able to plan ahead, and giving them full transparency on stocks in building materials will not only delight buyers but also help companies keep track of inventory.
Integrating a B2B eCommerce platform for building materials with any ERP or backend system will facilitate visibility and transparency, and in the end, provide an efficient overview of data.
Many companies are still living in the “comfort zone” of manually entering data into their system or even an excel spreadsheet. This often leads to errors. Reducing errors by building an efficient sales channel for building materials will enhance a relationship built on reliability and efficiency.
There are many myths about B2B eCommerce, but contrary to a common misconception, digital B2B eCommerce helps build a personal relationship between buyers and sellers. With the right B2B eCommerce platform, each buyer and customer will only be able to view their own personal list of products, pricings and promotions which will increase their productivity.
Builders, architects and designers need extensive product information to ensure a successful project. It’s not enough to only have information on weight, height and materials, the description needs to be contextualized and as specific as possible. As product information may be updated with additional information, any B2B eCommerce platform should be able to synchronize all content across all relevant channels - all done automatically in order to optimize time and eliminate errors.
Unlike B2C customers, B2B buyers represent a variety of roles, with different levels of seniority within the business. The access controls should be set up to reflect this.
With this in mind, the B2B eCommerce platform needs the functionality to provide different tiers of access for the hierarchy of users it accommodates. That could mean allocating each account an administrator, who has the ability to create separate customer users in turn, and grant individual permissions as they see fit. This prevents junior staff from actioning anything outside their remit, while managers can see everything from invoice history to available credit.
Long forms and five-step payment processes are just a few examples of how some construction companies overcomplicate checkouts procedures, which slows down conversion on B2B eCommerce sites. Simplifying the checkout process is a great way to reduce cart abandonment and drive buyers right through to purchase on the first run.
Quick checkout features are a foolproof addition to any B2B site and likely to prove especially popular amongst returning B2B customers. You can give buyers the option to make quick reorders based on their previous favorites, or fill out a short bulk order form using the SKU, part number or another more convenient identifier.
In the building materials industry, an existing business relationship is often already in place with the client and not every payment method should be processed online.
To accommodate the needs of the modern B2B buyers, construction companies should integrate offline payment methods like:
The platform should include the ability to configure multiple payment options while, at the same time, personalizing these to specific customers.
Offering personalized and flexible ways of ordering for B2B buyers will ultimately provide them with a seamless experience on your digital platform.
The mistake Distributors have made in the past is to replicate B2C eCommerce platforms that are no longer fit for purpose. The building materials industry needs to look for a flexible eCommerce platform, built specifically for B2B and that can scale with the business and ever-changing customer demands. Headless technology with built-in API capabilities will enable construction companies to be operationally efficient internally and, more importantly, to deliver and exceed seamless experiences to customers.
With the global building materials market value estimated at $271.98 billion and with a projection to grow to $376.72 billion by 2026, building material companies must start rebuilding their new digital sales channels to meet increasing demand and complexity.
Get in touch today to learn more about how we have helped leading construction companies and how we can help your company.