Having an Online Sales Channel is Just the Beginning, What Next?

Flipping the virtual “on switch” does not generate automatic online sales. Now it’s about answering the “Now What?”

Having an online sales channel is just the starting point. Now it is all about the buying/ordering experience and not just a pretty web site. Now you must connect with customers across a variety of channels and platforms as well as begin to develop your customer’s new online purchasing habits. You must diversify, both in terms of how you put yourself out there and how you bring people in. You will need to have multi-channel strategies that allow you to reach your target audience and be able to leverage the digital advertising opportunities available to generate traffic and increase sales.

But did you take the time to answer the "Now What?". I cannot tell you how many clients I have worked with, that I did not start their online sales channel process with, but was asked to come in after they launched to figure out the “Now What?” The first things I hear are, “Where is the traffic, where are the orders, how do I know who is even visiting our site?” Which is exactly why the “Now What” needs to be answered, and well planned out, during the beginning stages of developing your new sales channel not when you are ready to launch.

Think of it this way, when a new restaurant unlocks its doors for its grand opening people don’t just serendipitously know and start piling in. There is a build-up period and that build-up period begins once you commit to creating an online sales channel.

Here are a few action items to help you prepare for the "Now What?":

Marketing/Advertising- once you have committed to adding an online sales channel, a monthly marketing campaign needs to be planned out, from inception to launch and beyond.  Identify the marketing/advertising channels you will be using and who will be responsible for maintaining/updating this information. Prepare two press releases: publish one when announcing your new online sales channel and publish the other at launch.

Also you need to know:

  • Which social media outlets will you utilize?
  • Are you where you want to be with SEO?
  • How will you promote items for sale, specials, close outs?
  • Who will be responsible for social media postings?

Direct Connect with Customers- you need to be building up the excitement with your current customers about all of the benefits they will experience with the new online sales channel. Include in all of your current advertising/marketing a blurb about the new online sales channel that is “Coming Soon!” Get your customers familiar with the positive change that is coming by including updates in information they are already comfortable with. Send out eblasts or newsletters to your current customers highlighting such benefits as ease and efficiency of ordering online, online accounts that will keep track of their purchases, reporting features, being able to make purchases 24/7, etc. Don’t blindside them by making an announcement once you’ve gone live.

Customer Training- develop a webinar for online training or host several lunch and learns prior to launch so that you can, not only demonstrate the new online sales channel, but answer any questions in person and ease any concerns live. When I say “Customers”, keep in mind this is internal and external. Your external customers want to know that this new way of ordering is not going to be disruptive, that it will be simple and efficient, and above all else EASY. Your internal customers need to know the guts of how the system works, how are online orders handled, picked-up, delivered and mostly they need to feel confident when dealing with customers.

Remember, having a new online sales channel is just the starting point. Planning for the "Now What?" before you have flipped that virtual "on button" is much more important than having the online sales channel. Keep in mind my analogy of the restaurant opening, you can be the best chef in the universe and serve the best food of all time, but if no one knows how to find you......you get the point.

When It Comes to Amazon There are No Limits to Their Idea of Fulfillment

An Amazon patent details plans to create an "airborne fulfillment center", basically, a flying warehouse.

Images accompanying the patent feature a blimp as the chosen airship for the fulfillment center, although it's not clear the vehicle will be part of Amazon's final design.

Click here for full article:  http://www.postcrescent.com/story/tech/news/2016/12/29/amazons-patent-flying-warehouse/95951942/

Looking for a Cool Tool or Gadget for Your Fav Contractor? (a.k.a. yourself)

We found some awesome gifts for that hammer swinging, brick laying, dirt moving person in your life. Albeit, building supplies and materials are not the sexiest of things to shop for but I like a good challenge and I enjoy shopping online even better.

 

I find it interesting how many people ask me to find building products for them online. And I'm speaking of folks who own multiple building supply locations or are VP’s at $100 million dollar manufacturers. To their point, 1.) I am in e-commerce, and 2.) I only deal with building products and supplies, so I give them credit for going directly to someone that better be able to find them what they are looking for online.  

So if you are looking for a few good “gadgets”, tools, or necessities for someone in construction, outside of the standard hammer and saw,  I will share a few interesting ones with you that I found recently.  And for the record, I have no vested interest in these products nor are any of them a client of mine. It’s just cool stuff.

 

Rak Magnetic Wristband by Rak Pro Tools, $14.99 – it has 10 magnets imbedded in the band so it can hold a bunch of nails, screws, bits, etc., on your wrist while you are working. Super time saver. It was one of those things that you wouldn’t think you need until you have one, now I am one of those people. Just be careful walking past anything metal while you wear it, the magnets are super strong and you may involuntarily punch a pipe.

Pencilman Tape Measure by Smithworks, $29.95 – Allows you to multi-task by measuring and marking with one hand.  It is ambidextrous to accommodate “wrong-handed” folks and with a small built-in clamp it can hold a pencil, Sharpie, or a pen while you measure.  It can also draw arcs, circles, as well as edge slide and end to end markings.  Handy, yes.  Cool, yes.

 

Removable Truck Bed Tie Down Anchors by Lee Valley, $ 9.95 – Instead of being installed permanently in the bed of your truck, these anchors can be set-up for one job and moved or taken down for the next haul.  They should accommodate most railing sizes in pickup trucks and utility trailers.  It is zinc-plated to tighten securely and lay flush, yet it won’t scratch or dent the railings.  I know how some of you treat your trucks, no worries, this won’t hurt your other child named “F-150”.  Super durable and convenient. 

 

Heavyweight Cool Max Work Boot Socks by Duluth Trading, $14.95 – Yes, I am drawn to Duluth Trading because of their commercials.  The one with the nice, rugged gentleman swinging with relief and pure joy on the pole will make me laugh every, single, time.  However, great company, highly rated products and who doesn’t like a really, really good pair of work socks when you are on your feet all day, in all kinds of conditions. I do not own a pair but I am giving a few pairs this holiday because, to sum it up, sweaty feet are gross.

I hope this gives you a few good construction related gift ideas for that hard working person you admire in your life, even if that person is YOU, treat yourself!  If I stumble upon a few more this week I will be sure to spread the word.  Happiest of holidays to you and yours.

So Your New Online Sales Channel is Live.....Now What?

Flipping the virtual “on switch” does not generate automatic online sales. Now it’s about answering the “Now What?”

Having an online sales channel is just the starting point. Now it is all about the buying/ordering experience and not just a pretty web site. Now you must connect with customers across a variety of channels and platforms as well as begin to develop your customer’s new online purchasing habits. You must diversify, both in terms of how you put yourself out there and how you bring people in. You will need to have multi-channel strategies that allow you to reach your target audience and be able to leverage the digital advertising opportunities available to generate traffic and increase sales.

But did you take the time to answer the "Now What?". I cannot tell you how many clients I have worked with, that I did not start their online sales channel process with, but was asked to come in after they launched to figure out the “Now What?” The first things I hear are, “Where is the traffic, where are the orders, how do I know who is even visiting our site?” Which is exactly why the “Now What” needs to be answered, and well planned out, during the beginning stages of developing your new sales channel not when you are ready to launch.

Think of it this way, when a new restaurant unlocks its doors for its grand opening people don’t just serendipitously know and start piling in. There is a build-up period and that build-up period begins once you commit to creating an online sales channel.

Here are a few action items to help you prepare for the "Now What?":

Marketing/Advertising- once you have committed to adding an online sales channel, a monthly marketing campaign needs to be planned out, from inception to launch and beyond.  Identify the marketing/advertising channels you will be using and who will be responsible for maintaining/updating this information. Prepare two press releases: publish one when announcing your new online sales channel and publish the other at launch.

Also you need to know:

  • Which social media outlets will you utilize?
  • Are you where you want to be with SEO?
  • How will you promote items for sale, specials, close outs?
  • Who will be responsible for social media postings?

Direct Connect with Customers- you need to be building up the excitement with your current customers about all of the benefits they will experience with the new online sales channel. Include in all of your current advertising/marketing a blurb about the new online sales channel that is “Coming Soon!” Get your customers familiar with the positive change that is coming by including updates in information they are already comfortable with. Send out eblasts or newsletters to your current customers highlighting such benefits as ease and efficiency of ordering online, online accounts that will keep track of their purchases, reporting features, being able to make purchases 24/7, etc. Don’t blindside them by making an announcement once you’ve gone live.

Customer Training- develop a webinar for online training or host several lunch and learns prior to launch so that you can, not only demonstrate the new online sales channel, but answer any questions in person and ease any concerns live. When I say “Customers”, keep in mind this is internal and external. Your external customers want to know that this new way of ordering is not going to be disruptive, that it will be simple and efficient, and above all else EASY. Your internal customers need to know the guts of how the system works, how are online orders handled, picked-up, delivered and mostly they need to feel confident when dealing with customers.

Remember, having a new online sales channel is just the starting point. Planning for the "Now What?" before you have flipped that virtual "on button" is much more important than having the online sales channel. Keep in mind my analogy of the restaurant opening, you can be the best chef in the universe and serve the best food of all time, but if no one knows how to find you......you get the point.

Online Building Product Sales v. Online Consumer Retail

Seven components to keep in mind when developing your online sales channel

Building products and construction materials have different sales components that need to be taken into consideration versus those of your everyday online retail consumer. This means that the e-commerce experience has to meet these different components in order to be successful.  BPMs, wholesalers, and suppliers have used e-commerce to sell miscellaneous components, spare parts and off the shelf industrial products for years. Today, things have evolved and those same companies are now relying on e-commerce as their primary sales channel. Creating that sales channel to meet your customers specific needs is key to success.

BPMs and building supply companies need to be aware of some of these differences when developing an online sales channel that you may not see on everyday online retail sites. Here are seven components to keep in mind:

  • Ability to show different pricing levels depending on the type of visitor – consumer versus contractor
  • Build-to-order features and the ability to custom configure products with different options, trims, materials and operating conditions
  • In some cases, Live Chat and instant access to engineers for help with application and configuration
  • Ability to save and print complete orders before purchase is important since multiple decision-makers may be involved and the sales cycle may be weeks and not instant
  • Online cart should also support RFQs, not just transactions
  • Accept purchase orders and bill to existing corporate accounts
  • Job site delivery or pick-up options

Buying a pair of shoes online versus ordering a truckload of building supplies to be delivered vary greatly. However, both demand the same end result: create a flawless online customer experience that gets your products to your end user quickly and easily. Today business needs to be conducted on both fronts, online and brick-and-mortar. These fronts need to communicate flawlessly as one cohesive unit in order to ensure a positive ordering experience for all of your “customers”- contractors, manufacturers, distributors, DIY-ers, etc. E-Commerce is not about replacing existing channels of distribution, but rather augmenting them for the new rapidly changing, networked economy. 

Boeing Develops World's Lightest Metal

Arch Daily 9 November, 2016 by Patrick Lynch 

A metal microlattice developed by Boeing and HRL Laboratories has just been awarded the Guinness World Record for lightest metal.

Made from nickel phosphorus, the microlattice emulates human cell structure, reaching a density and surface area similar to lung tissue. So light it can be balanced on the top of a dandelion seed head, the material weighs in at approximately 100 times lighter than styrofoam.

"The point of achieving the record for lightest metal was to show the flexibility of the manufacturing process," said Bill Carter, Director of the Sensors and Materials Laboratory at HRL. "With the same process we can produce a strong and useful material that can be made with the density of aluminum all the way down to well below the density of air (excluding the air inside). Achieving a density at any point between those requires only a small change in the creation process. It can be done quickly, relatively inexpensively, and made to order."

To build the microlattice, a customizable polymer template is constructed through a “self-forming photopolymer waveguide process” and then electroplated with a layer of nickel-phosphorus with a thinness of approximately 80 nanometers, about 1,000 times thinner than the width of a human hair. The polymer is then removed using a chemical process.

The resulting product is the ultra-thin material and is capable of absorbing large amounts of energy throughout its structure.

The manufacturing process is both rapid and scalable, leading HRL to anticipate the microlattice could viably be used in applications including insulation, heat exchange devices, catalytic converters, airplane wings, military helmets, vehicle blast protection, and even to develop an artificial lung.  

http://www.archdaily.com/799124/boeing-develops-worlds-lightest-metal?utm_medium=email&utm_source=ArchDaily%20List 

5 Technologies That Are Making Smart Buildings Smarter

Construction Dive- Chris Wood, Nov 2, 2016 - The market for smart building technologies is expected to grow 34% annually over the next five years, according to a recent report on how interest in smart city development and the Internet of Things, along with their bottom-line potential for companies, is helping to fuel greater automation in the built environment. By 2021, the total market size for smart building technologies is forecast to reach $24.73 billion.

As technologists, architects, engineers and builders look to increase the number of smart buildings constructed and the number of older buildings retrofitted with automation and control technologies, here are five trends to watch for:

Predictive maintenance

From plant-sized chiller systems to elevators to lighting, IoT-connected devices will allow a shift from prevention and repair to conditions-based maintenance in real-time and based on historical performance data from the equipment in question and similar equipment elsewhere in the world, said Yasser Mahmud, vice president for industry strategy and business development at Oracle

Leveraging data, building operators can see indicators of potential problems and can take corrective actions before products and systems fail. Companies can save approximately 15% of their capital asset spend by focusing on optimizing existing building assets and prioritizing maintenance, said Mahmud, citing data from the McKinsey Global Institute. “The opportunity to reduce downtime and related costs is tremendous.”

Convergent networks

Wireless plays a key role in smart building development and technology, but fiber is still king in terms of keeping disparate technologies connected to the web and, increasingly, to each other for whole-building systems optimization. “Wireless is an incredible convenience but is still showing its limitations with interference and reliability,” said Bill Lally, president of Chatham, NJ–based integrated building technology company Mode:Green.

On the hospitality side, smart buildings are incorporating 4K video on-demand, access control, energy management and occupancy control, and they are integrating those features through a central dashboard and controls. The key is to avoid redundancy. "The more intersecting points we have in these various systems, the more intelligent we can make them as a whole," Lally said.

Wireless retrofits

From wiring to networks to HVAC, smart building infrastructure is most easily installed during construction. However, the larger opportunity is to bring intelligent building systems to the 5.6 million existing buildings in the U.S. — which is where Wi-Fi comes in.

“We are looking more and more into wireless technologies and putting infrastructure into the cloud as much as possible for storage and data management,” said Anil Ahuja, President of CCJM, Engineering Infrastructure and Facilities Solutions for Smart Cities. “Wireless technologies are also the key to making the built environment of ‘dumb buildings’ more smart [because] we don’t have to open up the floors and the walls [to update infrastructure].” 

For new buildings, too, wireless can minimize the volume of cooper wire installation, keeping first costs down.

Biometric integration

The industry should also expect more research and product development around the intersection of occupants’ biometric data and enhanced smart building operations. By using sensors to detect and trigger the control of lighting and thermal comfort, researchers are finding ways to increase productivity in office buildings and reduce stress in hospitals and other environments by mimicking circadian rhythms. 

“The accuracy of sensors will have greater importance as we try to improve cognitive function with air quality and lighting levels,” said Nathan Gauthier, director of facilities management integration and sustainability for Shawmut Design and Construction in Boston.

Gauthier is not alone “We’re working with light and mimicry of circadian rhythms to optimize work spaces and sleep spaces to take advantage of lighting and environmental control,” Lally said. 

Self awareness

In a parallel to machine learning, smart buildings may eventually become intelligent enough to diagnose and repair structural and system damage without human intervention. 

Researchers are investigating new sensing technologies for buildings to output data on structural integrity. Among them is a new computational model developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to measure structural damage and stress after a seismic event. The researchers outfitted the 21-story, I.M. Pei-designed MIT Green Building with 36 accelerometers to track how the building respondent to ambient vibrations.

"Smartness does not happen by automation only—the technology needs to encourage smart human behavior."


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Building scientists are likewise investigating the use of bacteria in concrete formulations for infrastructure to self-heal by exuding calcium carbonate to fill micro cracking as it occurs, for example. “Self-awareness is definitely a movement that we're looking at in smart buildings,” Ahuja said.

Regardless of where — and how soon — technology leads the development and optimization of smart buildings, providing building occupants with better information on energy management and other installed smart systems is integral to advancing the smart building ethos. Equally important to maintaining the efficacy of smart buildings is the behavior of building occupants. 

“Smartness does not happen by automation only. The technology needs to encourage smart human behavior,” Ahuja said. “Turning off lights, recycling and tracking energy usage via apps will all lead to the behavior change that’s a critically important part of smart buildings.”

DOT CALM : Recent Poll Shows BPM's and Suppliers Finally Progressing into the Online Universe

500 BPM's, Distributors, and Suppliers Polled Re: Implementing Internet-Based Technology

The building products and construction materials industry is such an integral part of our economy. Like any other industry, it is has been through its share of mergers, slow downs, and booms.  It is a proud industry and an industry that endures, yet it is slow to adapt to change and slow to embrace technology.  Despite construction being a $9.5-trillion industry, which is expected to double by 2030, it is "among the least digitized," said FINALCAD CEO Jimmy Louchart. The silver lining: internet-based sales channels are on the rise.

A Q4 2015 supply chain poll by the Aberdeen Group showed that out of 550 building product material manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers polled each have a strategy focusing on, or are expanding into, online sales channels.

According to a recent U.S. Census Bureau report, e-commerce sales represented 6.4% of total retail sales in the United States in 2015, significant growth compared to the 1.8% share a decade prior. Surprisingly private consumers are not the biggest beneficiaries of new technologies, but the United States manufacturing and wholesale sectors.  In 2015, e-commerce accounted for 60.9% of total manufacturing shipments and 27.7% of wholesale shipments were the result of online transactions.

Manufacturers and wholesalers are in agreement that adapting to e-commerce and internet based technology will be most important over the next five years in order to collect and analyze customer data and begin sharing it with trade partners in order to make supply chains more efficient, this according to a recent report by GT Nexus, an Internet-based procurement network.

“75% of respondents say digital transformation of the supply chain is important, but a massive gap exists today between where companies are today and where they expect to be in just five years from now,” says Mathieu Dougados Sr V.P Capgemini Consulting. The report adds that 95% of respondents expect within five years to have more automated data-sharing with trading partners, and 87% expect to have the ability to share immediate updates of production data.

According to Fortune 500 industrial supplier W.W. Grainger, a successful beast in the omni-channel and e-commerce areas, e-commerce is its fastest growing channel. In 2013 e-commerce was representing 25 percent of its sales online. By implementing a better established omni-channel approach to their already robust e-commerce platform, in 2015 this figure was over 50 percent.

Implementing a new sales channel does not mean you have to be huge like Grainger. The smallest of companies can take steps like offering a mobile and online experience that seamlessly integrates with an e-commerce platform. As long as your customers are receiving the same service no matter where they are, what they are doing, or what device they are using as they do in person, you are on your way to online success.

 

Building Supply Online Services Launches New BSOS 2.0

New Pro Online Ordering Platform and E-Comm Sales Training Added to Already Robust Portfolio 

Raleigh, NC- October 6, 2016-  With the standard supply chain being disrupted by e-commerce causing manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, and retailers to rethink the traditional supply model, Building Supply Online Services offers the support the industry has needed in order to continue to transition into technology.

"Our industry, building products and construction materials, is such an integral part of our economy", says Carolynn Pitcher Brescka, Founder and Lead Strategic Online Sales Channel Consultant.  "Like any other industry, it is has been through its share of mergers, slow downs, and booms.  It is a proud industry and an industry that endures yet it is slow to adapt to change and slow to embrace technology. We saw the need for us to fill the void of 'industry insider' that helps breakdown the technology barrier and create services that speak to all of us and target specific online sales needs for the building products and construction materials industry."

Building Supply Online Services, provider of niche online sales channel services for the building products sector, has just launched the new BSOS 2.0 website adding two new services to enhance online sales and ordering. With the addition of a new Pro Online Ordering System and New Sales Channel Training, Building Supply Online Services offers guidance and services to help your company wherever they may be on the road to adding online ordering and e-commerce. 

You can reach Carolynn at:

carolynn@buildingsupplyonlineservices.com

 

E-Commerce + M-Commerce, The Marriage is Inevitable

Originally posted September 26, 2016 LinkedIn

Mobile E-Commerce Spending in the First Quarter of 2015 Reached $11.1 Billion in Sales in the U.S.

The rise of M-commerce is due to its portability and ease of use completing transactions through the internet. M-commerce , best known as mobile commerce, completes the same transactions as e-commerce, however, these transactions are completed using cell phones and handheld mobile devices or any device that is considered wireless.  E-commerce, best known as electronic commerce, is the buying and selling of goods, products and services online where the transactions are completed using an electronic system such as the internet using a laptop and/or desktop computer.

As far as familiarity is concerned, anything purchased on a desktop falls under E-commerce while anything purchased on a mobile device falls under M-commerce. With both needing some form of electronic means to function it is understandable that M-commerce is also a form of E-commerce. So why do we use different terminologies? This is due to the difference in user behavior between a mobile transaction and a transaction completed using a website. Mobile apps interact with users quite differently from web apps.

With the growing number of people using E-commerce platforms through their mobile devices, the value of M-commerce is also growing. In Q2 2015, M-commerce spending was more than $11 billion and is now about 30% of all US E-commerce sales.

  • The Goldman forecast predicts that in 2018 M-commerce will reach the value of E-commerce from 2013, which was $23 billion
  • Among users referred to as digital spenders, cross-device shopping became a part of their regular buying experience.
  • According to Criteo's Report Q3 2015, 47% of users used tablets, 43% used smartphones, and 39% used laptops in their path to purchase.           

With that being stated, M-commerce may soon take over E-commerce in the way people make purchases online. It is changing consumer behavior on a deeper and more complex level, with the introduction of multi-channel / omni-channel retail, where stores have both online and offline outlets. The combined monthly mobile visits of all 378 U.S. Mobile 500 merchants grew 68.3% to 3.03 billion in 2015, while mobile monthly unique visitors grew collectively 44% to 964.7 million. The increase in mobile shopping is leading more U.S. retailers to invest in mobile apps, which can provide features not available on a mobile web site. However, through optimization, both your website and mobile presence can work harmoniously without having to invest in additional apps. 

In reality, they are one of the same and the definitions simply pertain to how a website is displayed and the type of shopping convenience that you are offering your customers. In today's world, both are necessary to keep you competitive. Offering both options will give your customers the opportunity to make purchases wherever they may be. And in today's competitive market having your products available to purchase at 3:00am on a Saturday or noon on a Tuesday can mean the difference between losing an old customer or making a new one.

Why Such A Big Gap Between Technology and the Building Products Sector?

Originally posted August 4, 2016 LinkedIn

So I ask, what is the hesitancy towards e-commerce and technology within the building products industry?

 

Out of 550 building product material manufacturers, distributors and suppliers polled:

  • 70% have begun implementing internet-based technology across their supply chain
  • 48% still rely mostly on traditional methods of communication like phone, fax, and email to connect with their supply chain partners

With other industries thriving in e-commerce and technology, the building material industry continues to lag behind. A large percentage of BPM’s, suppliers, wholesalers and distributors feel that they don’t need additional technology or e-commerce because they don’t sell direct to consumer.  That is the great misconception.  Your “consumer” is your customer which means it could be a contractor, a wholesaler, a distributor, a supplier, a dealer, a……. fill in the blank. “Customer” is no longer translated as John and Liz do-it-yourselfer down the street.  Besides lowering your cost of sale, technology and e-commerce also improves your overall sales processes, drives home your marketing message, and marries your online and offline presence. With so many other industries thriving in this sector, what do we think the missing link may be?  

Why It's Nearly Impossible to Stop This Online Scheme

Originally posted August 2, 2016 LinkedIn

If you are selling your products on Amazon or Ebay versus selling your own products via e-commerce, you may have unknowingly opened yourself up to this online scheme.

It seems as if it is always just a matter of time until someone sees a loop hole, and with reckless abandon, figures out how to capitalize on others hard work. 

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/278622

Nine Ways Chemistry Contributes To High Performing Buildings

Chemistry isn’t just limited to scientists’ labs and beakers. It is also used to create materials that grant buildings with enhanced building performance, enables energy and resource conservation, and facilitates materials that are easy to install and maintain.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/nine-ways-chemistry-contributes-high-performing-carolynn-brescka?trk=mp-author-card  

 

U.S. Wholesale and Manufacturing Closing the Electronic Supply Chain Gap

Supp Chain

The biggest beneficiaries of new technologies are the manufacturing and wholesale sector, not the private consumer.

According to a recent U.S. Census Bureau report, e-commerce sales represented 6.4% of total retail sales in the United States in 2014, significant growth compared to the 1.8% share a decade prior. Surprisingly private consumers are not the biggest beneficiaries of new technologies, but the United States manufacturing and wholesale sectors.  In 2014, e-commerce accounted for 60.9% of total manufacturing shipments and 27.7% of wholesale shipments were the result of online transactions.

Manufacturers and wholesalers are in agreement that adapting to e-commerce and internet based technology will be most important over the next five years in order to collect and analyze customer data and begin sharing it with trade partners in order to make supply chains more efficient, this according to a recent report by GT Nexus, an Internet-based procurement network.

“75% of respondents say digital transformation of the supply chain is important, but a massive gap exists today between where companies are today and where they expect to be in just five years from now,” says Mathieu Dougados Sr V.P Capgemini Consulting, and one of the authors of the report. The report adds that 95% of respondents expect within five years to have more automated data-sharing with trading partners, and 87% expect to have the ability to share immediate updates of production data.

A Big Gap Between Technology and Traditional Communication

  • 70% have begun implementing internet-based technology across their supply chain
  • 48% still rely mostly on traditional methods of communication like phone, fax, and email to connect with their supply chain partners

Traditional methods of communication across the supply chain create data-entry errors as product and shipping data gets manually entered, these errors also tend to slow the fulfillment process, the report says. Trying to manually keep your eye on your supply chain every step of the way is not good business. From manufacturing to wholesale to distribution to dealer to end user, there are multiple channels your products are traveling through. Through technology companies are able to analyze data with digital reports on sales forecasts and planned production, review P.O's, invoices and shipment notices, which in turn tends to foster collaboration between manufacturers, logistics providers and customers by sharing this data.

“In today’s globalized and outsourced world, digital transformation can only be successful if companies approach it with a holistic view of their entire value chain, from raw material providers, manufacturing partners and suppliers, logistics and transportation providers to retail and distribution channels.” Dougados says. “That value chain can include hundreds of partners. So connectivity between partners, cross-company access to data, and the use of network-wide analytics become the key focus areas.”

About the author:

Carolynn Pitcher Brescka is the founder of Building Supply Online Services. Carolynn has long been an e-commerce advocate and consultant within the building products industry working with many manufacturers, suppliers and distributors helping them realize their online potential.  By designing and implementing custom e-commerce solutions and training programs for her clients, Carolynn’s goal is to help companies within the building products sector grow their online business and help them capitalize on this high-growth sales channel.  She can be reached at carolynn@buildingsupplyonlineservices.com

E-Commerce v. M-Commerce: The Shift in Consumer Behavior

081815_MobilesSliceOfPie

Mobile E-Commerce Spending in the First Quarter of 2015 Reached $11.1 Billion in Sales in the U.S.

E-commerce, best known as electronic commerce, is the buying and selling of goods, products and services online where the transactions are completed using an electronic system such as the internet using a laptop and/or desktop computer.

M-commerce , best known as mobile commerce, completes the same transactions as e-commerce, however, these transactions are completed using cell phones and handheld mobile devices or any device that is considered wireless.  The rise of M-commerce is due to its portability and ease of use completing transactions through the internet.

E-commerce is more limited as it requires a connection to the internet while it is not mandatory for M-commerce.   As far as familiarity is concerned, anything purchased on a desktop falls under E-commerce while anything purchased on a mobile device falls under M-commerce. With both needing some form of electronic means to function it is understandable that M-commerce is also a form of E-commerce.

Why do we use different terminologies?  This is due to the difference in user behavior between a mobile transaction and a transaction completed using a website. Mobile apps interact with users quite differently from web apps.

With the growing number of people using e-commerce platforms through their mobile devices, the value of M-commerce is also growing. In Q2 2015, M-commerce spending was more than $11 billion and is now about 30% of all US E-commerce sales.

  • The Goldman forecast predicts that in 2018 M-commerce will reach the value of E-commerce from 2013, which was $23 billion
  • Among users referred to as digital spenders, cross-device shopping became a part of their regular buying experience.
  • According to Criteo's Report Q3 2015, 47% of users used tablets, 43% used smartphones, and 39% used laptops in their path to purchase.

With that being stated, M-commerce may soon take over E-commerce in the way people make purchases online.  However, the adoption of the online medium as a shopping platform does not simply entail eliminating physical locations altogether. It is changing consumer behavior on a deeper and more complex level, with the introduction of multi-channel retail, where stores have both online and offline outlets. The combined monthly mobile visits of all 378 U.S. Mobile 500 merchants grew 68.3% to 3.03 billion in 2015, while mobile monthly unique visitors grew collectively 44% to 964.7 million. The increase in mobile shopping is leading more U.S. retailers to invest in mobile apps, which can provide features not available on a mobile web site.  However, through optimization, both your website and mobile presence can work harmoniously without having to invest in additional apps.

In reality, they are one of the same and the definitions simply pertain to how a website is displayed and the type of shopping convenience that you are offering your customers. In today's world, both are necessary to keep you competitive. Offering both options will give your customers the opportunity to make purchases wherever they may be. And in today's competitive market having your products available to purchase at 3:00am on a Saturday or noon on a Tuesday can mean the difference between losing an old customer or making a new one.

Bio and Head

Carolynn Pitcher Brescka is the founder of Building Supply Online Services. Carolynn has long been an e-commerce advocate and consultant within the building products industry working with many manufacturers, suppliers and distributors helping them realize their online potential.  By designing and implementing custom e-commerce solutions for her clients, Carolynn’s goal is to help companies within the building products sector grow their online business and help them capitalize on this high-growth sales channel.  She can be reached at carolynn@buildingsupplyonlineservices.com

Creating Balance Between Brick-and-Mortar and Your Online Presence

Balance Tech and store

Action items you can do now to start creating that balance

Think about this: when was the last time you got in your car and drove to a building supply dealer and sat in the parking lot just looking at the storefront. Then you drove back home, without ever going in, and THEN got online to look at that same store to learn more? Hopefully you have answered NEVER. Now think of how you buy online.  You look up that dealer or manufacturer 's website and you read about them. You get detailed information online regarding their products offered and you make your own first impression of that company by their web presence and by what type of shopping conveniences they are offering you via their website.  Your key to success as consumer habits evolve online:  Improve your customers overall shopping experience by giving them the option to order and purchase products online and add to, or improve, your current brick and mortar services offered.

Gone are the days when “John and Suzy Best-Customer” show up at 7am at the local building products dealer to drink lousy coffee and shoot the bull while waiting to load up their pick-up truck with supplies.  The key e-Commerce trends of 2016 present a now-or-never scenario to building product suppliers and building product manufacturers. Either respond effectively to them or fall permanently behind.

Remember, your online presence is your customer’s new first impression.  Here are a few action items you can do now to start creating that balance between your brick-and-mortar store and your online presence:

Keep your website fresh and updated- this could be as easy as a new color scheme and layout of your current website. Your physical store and your website should reflect consistency in service and products.

Tweak your logo- Your logo should evolve with your brand. Logos should be tweaked to show the evolution of the company and can be rolled out with the new look of your website or with a new product offering. A tweaking of the logo doesn’t have to be a drastic change; the brand should still be recognizable.

Social media links- have active social media links on your website to keep customers updated on specials, promotions, etc.  Having active social media links keeps your website content “new” which is what search engines, such as Google, look for in rankings.

E-commerce- E-commerce brings your products into your customer’s office or kitchen or warehouse, or where ever they do business, and gives them the freedom to purchase products when they need to.  By offering your products online it unifies your in-store and online experience.

Responsive Design- a responsive design ensures that your current website is optimized for all devices.  This means that I can look at your website on my phone, my tablet, my laptop, etc. it still has a consistent design and I can easily make a purchase or browse through your website regardless of device.

Developing an online plan and creating your online store is now necessary to stay relevant in an ever changing online world.  Your online presence is about seamlessly connecting your online and off-line sales channels so your customers experience a unified brand and can access information quickly and easily when they need it.  It does not matter what you are selling.  It matters how visible and accessible your products are online and how clearly and consistently you are getting your brand and company message out to your customers.

Bio and Head

Carolynn Pitcher Brescka is the founder of Building Supply Online Services. Carolynn has long been an e-commerce advocate and consultant within the building products industry working with many manufacturers, suppliers and distributors helping them realize their online potential.  By designing and implementing custom e-commerce solutions for her clients, Carolynn’s goal is to help companies within the building products sector grow their online business and help them capitalize on this high-growth sales channel.  She can be reached at carolynn@buildingsupplyonlineservices.com

The E-Commerce "Trend" Is Not To Be Bucked

Slide1

This High Growth Sales Channel Has Plenty of Room to Grow Within The Building Products Sector

Shopping online is no longer just for airline tickets and shoes.  Ordering products online is the way we live our lives.  We expect to find EVERYTHING available to us ONLINE even building supplies. From screws, to drywall, to steel beams, to tools, to ....fill in the blank.  If it is physically needed on a job site I can assure you that it can be located online, ordered online, paid for online, and picked up by that customer or delivered to that customer.  Being able to order products online is not seen as a perk or luxury by your customers it is EXPECTED.

  • 70% of  consumers who shop online expect to see available products on your website
  • 50% of consumers expect to purchase online and pick up in store
  • Over 50% of all online purchases are now made via your mobile device versus your laptop
  • Half of all web traffic comes from mobile devices

And these numbers have no interest in retreating, these numbers are screaming growth. The key to success as consumer habits evolve online: Improve your customers overall shopping experience by giving them the option to order and purchase products online and add to, or improve, your current brick and mortar services offered.  Don't buck this "trend" because this "trend" is the new norm of how business is done.

 

Bio and Head

Carolynn Pitcher Brescka is the founder of Building Supply Online Services. Carolynn has long been an e-commerce advocate and consultant within the building products industry working with many manufacturers, suppliers and distributors helping them realize their online potential.  By designing and implementing custom e-commerce solutions for her clients, Carolynn’s goal is to help companies within the building products sector grow their online business and help them capitalize on this high-growth sales channel.  She can be reached at carolynn@buildingsupplyonlineservices.com

 

E-Comm Simplified, I Mean Reeeally Simplified

Age Old Question

Three Main Parts Makeup The Guts of an E-Commerce Site

Storefront: This is the online visual design of your site created to market and highlight your products.

Shopping Cart: Gives your customers the ability to choose products, add them to an “invisible shopping cart”, and place the order.

Payment Gateway: Securely completes the transaction by processing the online payment. E-commerce is not as complicated or costly as it is perceived.  If you don’t have the budget or time to staff and create an e-commerce department, third-party partnering is a great solution.  By using an e-comm third-party partner, you get a managed, turn-key, branded e-commerce site without having to add additional head count.  If you need some e-commerce guidance or have any questions that I can answer for you, I am more than happy to help.

Bio and Head

Carolynn Pitcher Brescka is the founder of Building Supply Online Services. Carolynn has long been an e-commerce advocate and consultant within the building products industry working with many manufacturers, suppliers and distributors helping them realize their online potential.  By designing and implementing custom e-commerce solutions for her clients, Carolynn’s goal is to help companies within the building products sector grow their online business and help them capitalize on this high-growth sales channel.  She can be reached at carolynn@buildingsupplyonlineservices.com

The New "First Impression" is Based on Your Online Presence, Not Brick and Mortar

For building product manufacturers, dealers, and suppliers your new first impression is your online presence. What are your online investment priorities for 2016?

Investment Levels B2B

Bio and Head

Carolynn Pitcher Brescka is the founder of Building Supply Online Services. Carolynn has long been an e-commerce advocate and consultant within the building products industry working with many manufacturers, suppliers and distributors helping them realize their online potential.  By designing and implementing custom e-commerce solutions for her clients, Carolynn’s goal is to help companies within the building products sector grow their online business and help them capitalize on this high-growth sales channel.  She can be reached at carolynn@buildingsupplyonlineservices.com 

The Rise of the Digitally Enabled B2B Customer

B2B Chart Forrester Customers Making Purchases When it is Convenient for Them

With trends consistently moving towards the customer's preference to make purchases online and via mobile device, it is becoming more and more clear that the customer will make purchases based on when it is convenient for them. Building supply retailers and manufacturers need to ask themselves this question: If you currently are not offering your products online, if one of your contractors/customers is ready to make a purchase at 10pm on a Tuesday, where do you think they are ordering their supplies? Answer: The supplier that does have that same product ready to purchase online.  If customers can't find it quickly and efficiently on your site they move on to whomever can.  Trust me when I say customer loyalty only runs as deep as the in-store and online services you offer.

Bio and Head

Carolynn Pitcher Brescka is the founder of Building Supply Online Services. Carolynn has long been an e-commerce advocate and consultant within the building products industry working with many manufacturers, suppliers and distributors helping them realize their online potential.  By designing and implementing custom e-commerce solutions for her clients, Carolynn’s goal is to help companies within the building products sector grow their online business and help them capitalize on this high-growth sales channel.  She can be reached at carolynn@buildingsupplyonlineservices.com