Lifted From PBM http://www.professionalbuildersmerchant.co.uk/
With online sales becoming a growing business stream for many merchants, Adam Pulfer speaks to PBM about the work that timber decking specialist Hoppings is undertaking in relation to online sales support for its merchant customers — even those that don’t have a website.
It’s widely accepted that a good website can be your best possible sales tool — even in a marketplace where, traditionally, actual customer visits to a shop or yard pre-dominate. Changing customer demands and trends require builders’ and timber merchants to adapt their marketing efforts in order to maximise their sales potential and the online world increasingly needs to be their new ‘shop window’ — one that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However, online marketing can seem a massive leap for a number of independent merchants — who are in danger of being left behind by the national chains in particular when it comes to online technology — invariably having neither the time or resources to focus on this aspect of their business.
According to its Marketing Director Adam Pulfer, this is where Hoppings can help. The company is now enabling its merchants to incorporate the entire Q-Deck decking and Q-Line softwood mouldings ranges into their existing sites, with a shopping cart facility, to sell online. And for those approved stockists with no website, Adam says that Hoppings can build them an entirely new, totally bespoke website, which also offers the firm’s entire range within its pages.
This is said to be deliverable to merchants at a fraction of the cost of developing their own site as both options benefit greatly from being able to ‘piggy-back’ upon the huge amount of traffic that Hoppings established site — www.qualitydecking.co.uk — receives.
Adam explained: “Research has shown that a visitor judges your company within seconds of visiting your website. To be successful, it’s got to deliver the goods immediately. This scheme, which we believe is totally unique within the timber industry, does the hard work for our stockists. It quickly produces an impressive website that really works for them and on a scale which, were they to build from scratch, would prove to be extremely costly.
“And linking to qualitydecking.co.uk is absolutely key, as merchants in the scheme benefit directly from the high volume of traffic the site has built up during its existence. This is of course a massive advantage over the competition but what’s more, we also provide the platform for merchants to sell their other building products, via the online shopping facility. There are so many advantages to linking to Q-Deck and/or Q-Line as an official online partner.”
According to Adam, there are significant commercial benefits to both merchants and the supplier itself from this approach. He said: “It’s mutually beneficial for Hoppings and all of its stockists to successfully sell our ranges online. By utilising the Q-Deck online shop, our merchants gain an ever-growing new channel of business; they sell more and obtain repeat business whilst Hoppings gains not only from the increased sales, but also by strengthening our partnerships with our customers.
“The consumer will also benefit by being able to order Q-Deck from a source with whom they have a local relationship. In a nutshell, it’s a ‘win, win’ situation,” asserts Adam.
Indeed, the role of the consumer is deemed central to the approach as to get the best out of these sites — and increase turnover and profit — the supplier feels that offering the consumer the best possible service is the key to increasing online sales. It has accordingly set a base level of service for customers taking advantage of the online strategy, including free delivery on orders over £200 within a 10 mile radius and order confirmation within 48 hours.
Many of the firm’s merchant partners are happy to offer a higher level of service to enhance their online offering — and are already reaping the benefits. For example, Simon Wackett from S & J Wackett Timber Merchants commented: “I’m so glad I decided to get involved in websites with Hoppings and especially the online shop, as it has had already made the phone ring and generated a lot of enquiries. Since I opened my online selling website just ten days ago we have already received two deck orders, which pretty much pays for my investment — and it’s only February! I’m very pleased.”
Simon added: “My customers now have access to the whole Q-Deck range on my website, including ‘How to’ guides and usage ideas. In addition they have the reassurance of dealing with a local supplier, which they now know. Hoppings took care of all the legal requirements for my website and Q-Deck shop which, frankly, I found a bit of a minefield. It was made so easy for me and I have a great website for far less than if I’d gone it alone.”
When it comes to the details, Adam reveals: “The charges we make for enhancing an existing site, or creating one from scratch, are extremely competitive. What’s more, we don’t leave it there. Our on-going investment in SEO and ‘pay-per-click’ strategies ensures our Google rankings continuously improve, meaning more visitors to qualitydecking.co.uk which in turn means more traffic to our partner shops at no additional charge to them.
“Visitors to our partner stockists sites have full access to our comprehensive Product and ‘How to’ Guides, which are recognised as some of the best publications in the timber industry. We are at present embarking on a series of e- mailings to consumers, driving traffic to both our site and those of our stockists. And by Easter there will be nearly 30 live Q-Deck online shops, with more in the pipeline.”
Underlining the significance of an enhanced online sales strategy, Adam summed up by commenting: “We view these websites as an exciting and important part of our future and we will do everything we can to support our valued partners in this enterprise.”
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