Many manufacturers have faced the issue to one degree or another: How do you sell more construction and building materials online?
Just having a website doesn’t cut it. You’ll need a targeted, strategic approach to e-commerce if you want to boost your online ROI.
Get it right, and you’ll build security into your business by putting more of your branded products in front of customers who want them. Fortunately, it’s a matter of following a few key strategies that have been proven to work for manufacturers who are savvy about their digital presence.
Here are 5 methods to start selling more of your building and construction materials online:
1. Help Dealers and Distributors with E-Commerce
E-commerce is a primary way consumers will be able to benefit from your products. Up to 70% of consumers online expect to see available products on a website.
That means your dealers and distributors should have websites that make online sales very easy. Here’s where you can step in.
As a building material manufacturer, you can actually help your partners create or improve their e-commerce presence. By doing so, you’ll be doing an invaluable service for them…and your brand will get an overall boost from the increase in sales.
You can tap into your business data and analytics to give dealers e-commerce tips for more sales, such as which products are known to sell better and have a lower rate of return, which aspects of them to emphasize, and the best ways to display and talk about them.
Some of the main tasks will include helping your B2B customers refine their web design, streamline the checkout process, and optimize conversion rates. If you don’t already have this knowledge on hand, it may be helpful to hire a staff member with specific expertise in e-commerce and online growth strategy.
This person can be a liaison between your company and your local partners, as they take your brand’s strongest selling points and translate them into actionable advice for more local building material sales.
Also, see if you can leverage your logistics know-how and network to reduce shipping times and costs for your dealers. For example, understanding what is telematics and load board can provide a key competitive edge.
All of this leads to one thing: stronger bonds between your brand and local retailers, leading to more online purchases of your building materials.
2. Create the Ideal User Experience (UX)
Another way to sell construction materials online at a higher rate? Create a superior user experience.
This matters because people buy more from websites they feel good using. A study from Forrester Research found that better user experience design could raise conversion rates by up to a whopping 400%.
Make sure you have an easy ordering process. If one of your dealers or distributors needs to buy certain items in bulk, there should be clear descriptions of the product, dimensions and sizing, and everything else they need to know.
Leave nothing to the imagination here: now’s the time to give all the details!
Part of a good checkout UX is cross-selling related products at checkout. A lighting manufacturer that sells flat panels for ceilings, for example, should suggest additional mounting kits on the order page. This will enable contractors and other wholesale buyers to get everything they need for installation, without a hitch.
You’ll also want clear visuals of your products. 3D “product visualizers” are helpful tools that users can manipulate with a few clicks of the mouse (or a few taps and swipes on their mobile devices) to see exactly how your building materials will look, feel, and fit into projects.
It’s also important to have intuitive website navigation, with links to customer reviews and helpful how-to content. This puts greater purchasing confidence just a link away for buyers who just want to confirm they’re making the right decision.
Finally, consider using chatbots. In a Userlike survey, 68% of respondents liked the fact that a chatbot answered their questions quickly. Today’s artificially-intelligent chat tech enhances the user experience even more by catering to user needs, answering questions, and preserving inquiries for follow-up from a sales or customer service rep if needed.
3. Offer a Subscription Option
As we’ve already mentioned…selling building materials online, and doing it better than ever, means making the buying moment nearly effortless.
In fact, you should make it unnecessary for customers that have bought once to take any further action at all.
By offering an automatic renewal option on your website order pages, customers will be relieved of the hassle of having to do it manually every time they want a “refill.” It also has a subtle, but very real effect of creating brand loyalty. Subscriptions help local pros and DIY consumers get used to receiving and using your building material products regularly.
This especially applies to consumables and wholesale products that sell out quickly for retailers. For instance, packages of wood cutting and shaping tools, such as drill bits and saw blades, are a great fit for a subscription offer. Build this functionality into your checkout page, and strongly consider offering a discount to customers who go for it.
Business buyers such as contractors, distributors, and dealers are especially unlikely to cancel regular orders of tools and accessories they regularly use. It’s a simple way to build stable, recurring revenue into your online operations.
4. Offer Product Samples and Demos
While crafting a strong e-commerce experience is very effective in selling building materials online — why not bring your products to life? That is, build something of a “real world” element into the ordering process?
You can do this by offering product samples. One study found that 81% of customers would purchase a product or solution because they tried a sample first, a principle that certainly applies to buyers of building materials.
Let’s say a carpet installer wants to show an office building owner several samples of an exclusive design, and you’re a floor textile manufacturer. You could have a simple, eye-catching popup offer for users who might want to order a few swatches for quick delivery.
Physical samples can be much more persuasive than just pictures and a few words of copy. If dealers and distributors can touch and feel your products, they can better determine whether it’s for them. If you sell directly to individual consumers as well, they can be confident your products will meet their needs in their homes and offices.
Make it easy, perhaps with a popup or a simple widget on your site, to order a sample within seconds. Make delivery a no-brainer. Follow up with leads to answer questions.
Your prospect will be glad to get the call, since they have a link with your brand through the physical sample — and it will be much easier to earn the sale if you show your company cares.
5. Use a Premium Locator Software
The most immediate way to improve online sales is to actually “get out of the way!”
In other words, cut the buyer journey down to a simple few clicks. Help them choose the right brick-and-mortar location in a snap. You can get it done with the Bullseye locator software.
Bullseye sends your web leads directly to your local dealers or contractors, who will interact face-to-face with consumers. This means you’re helping your local partners sell more, and indirectly, you’ll also boost sales of your own building material products. Bullseye is also smart enough to customize a user’s search results. If there are no nearby dealers or contractors, Bullseye can display a list of online distributors to ensure no customer is left hanging.
Bullseye supports lead nurturing and email marketing, so you can follow up with leads seamlessly. Your entire online sales process, in fact, can be refined to yield more consistent revenue as a result of actually capturing lead info and having a complete view of the customer journey — rather than just allowing users to leave your site without ever knowing who they are.
Bullseye also helps you demonstrate ROI to your dealers, since you can see which dealers are moving the most product. You can track the lead gen more reliably, and see how many of your web users are converting to paying customers.
It’s clear: Bullseye’s robust locator technology is one of the best tools to help you sell construction materials online and build a revenue-generating machine.
E-Commerce Is Competitive For Building Material Manufacturers — Make Sure You Get It Right
Becoming more successful at selling construction and building materials online takes more than having a simple website. You’ll have to put the right strategies in place to meet customers where they are, and keep them engaged all the way to the point of sale.
Helping your dealers and distributors set up and refine their e-commerce outlets is a huge strategy that can pay off. In addition, product samples, subscription order offers, and a clean web user experience will all boost the number of online leads that turn into paying customers.
A really important part of the picture, however, is shortening the time it takes to get to the cash register. To master this part of things, you’ll want a premium locator platform like Bullseye.
Bullseye takes your high-intent web traffic from point A to point B in a snap, because it shows them exactly where they can buy your building material products in person. It also helps you follow up with leads, build goodwill with your dealers, and strengthen your online sales strategy overall.
The whole time, you’ll be in the driver’s seat.
Want to see the role Bullseye can play in increasing your online sales? Schedule a free assessment today of your current locator solution today to see what Bullseye brings to the table.