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E-commerce is becoming increasingly important in construction business. But what are the driving forces for contractors to buy their building materials online? 

Sure, currently the online sales channel for construction material is not yet in real competition with specialists’ brick and mortar stores. For now, it serves as a supplement. However, online shopping in the construction industry is also slowly gaining ground, as a recent study by the Düsseldorf market research institute BauInfoConsult among 181 construction companies has shown. Already today, more than ten percent of the total volume is ordered in the online shops of general and specialized dealers.

Why should building contractors consider buying online?

  1. Purchasing around the clock
    Orders for materials can be placed late in the evening, regardless of opening or business hours. Also, there is no longer the need to travel to a dealer for each replenishment of C-parts. If you negotiate your personal prices, the perfect product quality and all the specification for your project once, the ordering of supplies no longer requires being at the dealer’s site in person – at most to pick up the goods via click & collect.
  2. Price wars
    Keep your project costs low with individual prices that are significantly lower if you purchase online. Also, dealers of construction material can offer a wider range of brands and product variation online. Drop shipping for example offers a high level of stock keeping optimization. And don’t forget the better comparability due to detailed product descriptions!
  3. C-parts and consumables don’t need personal consulting
    Building contractors often need the possibility of being able to inspect the material personally before the purchase. In consultations face to face, the experience of dealers can be a bonus to contractors. But at some point, this is no longer needed: C-parts, consumables and materials that have once been chosen but are needed repeatedly no longer make consultation necessary. Those are much more efficiently ordered online, on the fly or even via subscription.
  4. Always an alternative
    If a customer wants something different than initially planned, contractors need to be flexible. A different clay plaster? The rose colored tiles instead of the cerulean ones? Contractors are known to handle those turns well, and online shops can offer multiple alternatives straight away, if a spontaneously needed product is not available. By this, situational adjustments to project changes are no hassle any more.
  5. Get personal, offline and online
    Every project is special. Long-term suppliers know all your favorite brands, materials, and tools. But online, this knowledge is enhanced to personalized catalogs, unique prices depending on your consumption, subscription models for recurring orders and much more, maybe even combined with digital services.

Building contractors are loyal. Once they are in a professional relationship with a supplier, a long-term agreement is almost guaranteed. This way, purchasing becomes efficient for them. Just a “nice price” at a random web shop won’t do the trick. But if a trusted supplier leverages that relationship by getting their catalog online and running their very own web shop, contractors benefit from a consistent brand experience, no matter if on site or online – including better prices and personalized cross- and upselling promotions.

If you are a supplier of building material, take a look at our checklist if you consider getting your business online.