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.