Why is B2B e-commerce platform worth implementing in the construction industry?

Author:
Aneta Barth
Published:
5.3.2024
D

igital transformation in the B2B market is gaining momentum and revolutionising more industries. One of these is the construction industry, which has huge potential for digitalisation in the business sector. However, many companies are procrastinating on implementing a modern e-commerce platform, for fear of inadequately matching the technology to the specifics of the industry. What kind of challenges do B2B construction companies face, how can modern tools can support them in launching online sales? and what are the benefits of digitalisation?

E-commerce in the construction industry 

Let us start by giving an overview of the construction industry and its’ current state of new technologies implementation. The sector is quite diverse, both in terms of product range and business entities, including wholesalers, manufacturers and distributors. What is their view on the digitisation of sales processes and are they ready for it? According to the report, construction companies already recognise the potential of e-commerce.

How does this situation look in Poland? According to the report, the most active sectors in B2B e-commerce are transport/logistics/distribution and trade. However, this does not change the fact that 34% of companies in the construction sector are already selling online.

The presented data shows that the industry is only at the beginning of its digitisation journey, which allows companies to stand out from the competition. This could be a significant factor that will motivate more organisations to accelerate the pace of digital change in this sector. After all, the realisation that a customer will choose a competing shop because he or she can find all the information about the retailer and products, online, can significantly influence the desire to launch online sales. 

It is worth mentioning the buying habits of B2B customers. According to The B2B Future Shopper Report 2023, business customers are increasingly opting for online shopping. This trend is set to become even stronger in the coming years.

Customer expectations in the business sector are therefore constantly rising, and companies face a considerable challenge in responding to their needs. However, it is not enough to move operations online. Companies must adapt the e-commerce platform in a way that supports creating the best shopping experience.

Challenges of the construction industry

The construction industry is a specific sector of the economy that requires a customised approach to the digitalisation of sales processes. This is influenced by aspects such as:

  • the diverse range of products, which often require a special mode of transport,
  • the configurability of 'made-to-measure' products,
  • complex business logistics associated with the supply chain, 
  • the need to personalise the sales offer individually to the customer,
  • price flexibility of products due to changing costs of resources and materials 
  • customer habits related to ordering products directly from the sales representative,

These needs are also compounded by the general challenges of B2B businesses, which also affect the construction industry. According to the report, the main pain points identified by companies in 2023 are rising material costs, increased fuel and energy costs, product availability issues, reduced product demand from individual customers, or geopolitical issues.

What processes can be supported with a B2B e-commerce platform?

The challenges faced by construction companies require the implementation of solutions tailored to their specific needs. Digital tools can effectively support many areas of companies' activities in this sector, bringing benefits here and now, as well as in the long term.

Online ordering

The B2B e-commerce platform enables business customers to place orders online in an automated and efficient manner, anywhere, anytime. This results in a reduction in the time it takes to place an order, eliminates errors associated with manual data processing, and provides the ability to track order status in real time. This has a positive impact on the sales representatives’ duties, who can focus on building relationships with the customer instead of doing all the operational work.

Personalisation of pricing policy

The e-commerce platform streamlines the process of calculating discounts and tailoring prices to the individual B2B customer. This is made possible through process automation, which, based on purchase history and customer behaviour, allows discounts to be tailored to individual business partners, e.g. as part of a loyalty programme. Furthermore, when materials’ prices change, it enables a quick and comprehensive update of product prices. 

Assortment and catalogue management

The integration of the B2B e-commerce system with PIM (Product Information Management) system enables effective management of an extensive product catalogue and the presentation of goods in an attractive manner for customers. As a result, they can easily filter products on the website and obtain precise technical information, which increases the chance of finalising a purchase.

Logistics and delivery

The digitalisation of sales processes also has a huge impact on the way replenishment, product packaging and delivery are managed. Automation in this area makes it possible to introduce solutions dedicated to specific groups of products, taking into account their non-standard size or shape, adapting the type of delivery to them. In addition, with constant access to stock levels, the company can effectively manage orders and keep customers informed of possible delivery, maintaining a smooth distribution of goods.

B2B customer service

Automation does not mean that the customer is left alone. An e-commerce platform allows contractors to contact a sales representative or customer service directly. Because the platform collects data on customer activity on the website, the merchant can accurately assist the customer in the purchasing process and better address their expectations. 

Analysis and reporting

Analysing data on purchasing processes and customer behaviour is crucial for effective sales management in the construction industry. Advanced analytical tools and the generation of automated reports make it possible to conclude past activities, introduce new solutions and increase the effectiveness of business decisions. 

Marketing

With comprehensive analysis and reporting dashboards, construction shops gain access to a wealth of valuable information about contractors. This allows them to implement effective marketing strategies based on customer segmentation and personalisation. In this way, the company can implement dedicated email campaigns, e.g. informing about discounts or carrying out retargeting activities - reaching customers who have previously visited the website but have not made a purchase. This makes it possible to increase the company's visibility in the market and to communicate with contractors through a variety of channels.

How to implement an e-commerce platform?

Implementing an online B2B platform requires technological expertise and a personalised approach. The comprehensive process of implementing such a solution involves several steps:

  1. Consultation, analysis and strategy development
  2. Visual design of the platform
  3. System implementation
  4. Integration with external tools (PIM, CRM, ERP)
  5. Maintenance and development of the platform

Therefore, to smoothly go through the digital transformation process, it is recommended to gain support of an e-commerce agency that will select the right technology, and take care of the implementation and the development of the platform. However, the benefits of digitising sales processes far outweigh the cost of investing in technical infrastructure.

There are off-the-shelf solutions on the market that enable the rapid launch of a new distribution channel. One example is B2B Box by Strix, which enables B2B businesses to kick off their online sales in just three months. Among its key functionalities are intelligent price management, stock updates and efficient product management. Would you like to find out more?

If you are looking for a business partner to implement the B2B e-commerce platform, contact us and we will be happy to advise you on the best solution for your company.

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