The Impact of E-Commerce in Construction Materials Sales

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The construction industry is growing and it’s not only in real life, but also in the digital world. It did take some time, but the construction industry is now using all the advantages it gets from e-commerce to purchase, sell, or even rent equipment and materials. 

Some time ago, project managers were called middlemen or brokers for selling construction materials, but those days don’t exist anymore. E-commerce is now a trend on smartphones and tablets, where it has been significantly boosting the efficiency of the construction process and even shortened the time span of the time it takes a project to get completed. 

There still might be a few construction companies out there that don’t know about the many benefits they receive through construction. We’ll be diving deeper into this article to learn about the impact e-commerce has had in the industry. 

6 Ways the e-commerce world is impacting construction industry sales 

More than 2.6 billion people are engaging in e-commerce transactions, meaning that everyone is choosing to do business online rather than going to a physical store and buying something they can get online. 

  • Expansion of Amazon Business

You may be wondering why Amazon Business is important, but let’s face it, Amazon does make customers a priority. Over 60% of Amazon’s sales come from independent sellers. Each year, Amazon business is growing and if we were to rate it, it’s at the top position of an industrial distributor in the USA. 

In order to stay above competitors, it’s important for suppliers to move at a fast pace. No provider is able to compete with Amazon’s SKU selection. Therefore, suppliers need to work together and collaborate with marketplaces that don’t stand in front of them and all of their clients. 

  • Digitalization after the COVID-19 pandemic 

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After the massive lockdowns, digitization has become more common amongst B2B business owners. It has accelerated massively and even for the construction industry, it has made project managers look for alternative ways to find equipment and materials during the lockdown. 

Innovation is the biggest player post COVID-19 pandemic. It has taught all business managers a lesson and that is to change their way of working.

As for the construction industry, it showed project managers that they need to make quick and reliable decisions. In order to succeed in a fast-paced changing world, adaptation is the key to success. 

This is where project managers needed to collect enough data for making quick and hard decisions. Fortunately, the industry didn’t let them down and managed to create a bunch of new e-commerce digital tools that will help them make these decisions.

  • The rise of e-commerce platforms 

The rise of e-commerce platforms for construction companies is allowing project managers to make well-informed decisions and allowing them to be more focused on building much better customer relationships. 

Let your ERP do all the work so they can focus on building a much better customer relationship. E-commerce platforms update e-commerce stores in real-time, have 24/7 response times and easily integrate with an ERP and PIM system. 

The construction industry is always busy and it’s not surprising if orders are placed at any time of the day. Therefore, it’s important to offer 24/7 support and this is what e-commerce platforms are helping the construction industry do. 

Most modern day e-commerce platforms will allow you to integrate your e-commerce work and Microsoft Dynamics or SAP all into one. Overall, e-commerce platforms are great in delivering a reliable online experience, reducing errors and delays in order that your customers have the suitable materials they need at the right time and at the construction site. Some other positives include: 

  • Accurate custom orders: The e-commerce platform will display an on-spot delivery time and price based on ERP logic. 
  • Real-time inventory updates: As we mentioned before, many modern-day e-commerce platforms work as one, so what’s available on your ERP, your online store will allow you to sell it as one. This is great for receiving real-time updates and updating inventory levels. 
  • Real-time updates across all sales channels: The same information is provided across all sales channels and this allows your customers to make all orders online and pick them up in-store during their way to their job. 

E-commerce platforms are impacting the construction industry since they are making continuous updates. These are adapting to modern business needs and try to keep up with a face-paced market the digital world faces nowadays. 

  • Millennials are becoming common B2B purchasers 

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64% of millennials are becoming B2B purchasers. More than half of them are the ones who purchase online and this number could even potentially increase in the future. Baby Boomers on the other hand are retiring and passing all of their work on to the younger generation. 

Moreover, let’s not forget that contractors will conduct online research about an online company, such as their customer reviews, social media presences, website and more. All contractors need to be sure that the material they are purchasing is high quality and coming from a reliable provider. 

Poor customer service, slow shipping and broken machinery will not ever be a good sign for contractors looking to buy, so it’s important you avoid this at all costs. Positive ratings have a significant impact on how contractors see an online store and the chances of them purchasing from there. 

Contractors heavily depend on the services and suppliers since it’s an important entity of letting their business successfully run. 

  • Customers want self-service 

Customers don’t want to be on the phone always having to communicate with some representative to buy a product. This is even more common for the construction industry since they are moving at such a fast pace. 

It’s hard to believe, but self-service is what will replace many jobs in the future, including some of those in customer service. E-commerce is a great way of increasing the efficiency of many jobs. Overall, many view them as ways of replacing jobs, but this isn’t always necessarily true. 

Many B2B purchasers might not be too well aware of what they’re trying to purchase, so they may feel more comfortable trying to speak to someone before they make a purchase. This is even more true for the construction industry since purchasing online has become more popular in recent years. While talking to the customer, it can significantly boost sales and increase customer happiness and retention. 

  • Many buyers are going digital 

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Yes, you read that correctly. Many buyers are now too busy with other tasks and find it easier to conduct purchases online. 2.64 billion people are digital buyers and more than half of them are B2B buyers that make a purchase daily. 

The number of digital buyers is growing and this is increasing in the construction industry as well, but at a slower pace since it’s one of the industries that slowly adjusts to adopting digital technology. 

However, something that is a main focus from construction workers is to reduce the amount of money being spent and to improve operational efficiency. E-commerce is a relevant solution to this, considering the fact that a good number of construction companies will give more importance to supplier relationships over CX challenges. 

Some challenges include converting a direct relationship with a salesperson from real life to the online world. More B2B buyers are expecting the construction industry to provide online channels for construction materials, but also contacts that can help them find what they need. 

Moreover, while some may argue that purchasing products online makes it challenging to build a long-term relationship with contractors, buyers and others, the world is heading towards this direction and becoming the new normal. 

This doesn’t mean you should completely relinquish your offline channels and presence, but it means to adapt to new changes. The world is digitizing each day and if we don’t adapt to it, it’ll significantly impact the number of sales the construction industry will have. 

The generational shift of the construction industry 

For a very long time, we’ve been thinking of construction as an industry that completes everything in person and not online. However, those are traditional methods of working and the world isn’t the same as it used to be. 

The construction industry might be slower to adapt to this new method of working, but it will definitely be an advantage since the industry itself wants quick decision making and e-commerce platforms have come such a long way to assist all project managers in doing so. 

The Author: 

Tony Ademi is a freelance SEO content and copywriter. For roughly four years, Tony has managed to write more than 500 SEO-optimized articles and most of them have ranked #1 on Google. When writing, Tony’s main focus is to carefully do research and make sure that his content is high-quality.

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