Markets

E-Commerce Trends for Commercial Construction

In the rush to remain accessible during the crisis, it was easy to miss the mark on some key e-commerce success factors. Now is the time for suppliers to reevaluate the effectiveness and relevance of their current online presence.
By Joe Altieri
January 7, 2021
Topics
Markets

Change burst onto the scene in 2020 like a wrecking ball and smashed norms without discrimination. The pandemic, and subsequent closures and lockdowns, brought Godzilla-sized destruction world-wide. But it didn't take long to realize that the construction industry would largely escape the devastation and even thrive through the chaos.

Stay at home orders, canceled vacations and pandemic stimulus checks all contributed to a significant uptick in renovation and construction projects. A Business Wire article published last July states: “According the latest U.S. Census Bureau report, home centers, hardware stores, garden centers and building materials suppliers realized a year-over-year sales increase of 22.6%, leading all retail categories except for online purchases.” And that was just a few months after the pandemic began.

As online sales soared, many custom building materials and home improvement supplies that were not typically thought of as potential e-commerce candidates started appearing in the dot-com space. Decks, windows, doors, window screens and paint are some of the products that can now be purchased entirely online.

But in the rush to remain accessible during the crisis, it was easy to miss the mark on some key e-commerce success factors. Now that some time has passed and businesses have taken a collective breath, it would be wise for suppliers to circle back and reevaluate the effectiveness and relevance of their current online presence.

USER-FRIENDLY WEBSITES MATTER MORE THAN EVER

A clean, modern website with clear features and an intuitive check-out process is not optional in today's business landscape. Companies who successfully embrace e-commerce understand that their product's quality and value don't matter if customers can't complete their purchase because of a confusing ordering or check-out process.

Consider recruiting impartial volunteers who know nothing about the industry to evaluate your website's current features. Collect their feedback, and then make the necessary changes.

Websites represent a business and can make or break sales more than any other asset. Reduce abandoned carts and increase sales by investing in an appealing, user-friendly and upgraded website.

MARKETING IS MANDATORY, AND EASIER THAN IT USED TO BE

A great website doesn't matter if you're not driving consumers to it. Successful e-commerce and effective marketing go hand-in-hand. Investing in increased online awareness through social media marketing and other brand awareness strategies must be prioritized. Surprisingly, many of the more-established businesses in the construction field have bypassed this means of growth or are poorly managing their already anemic online presence in favor of more expensive, traditional advertising on television, radio, billboards and billboards.

To fully realize e-commerce potential, 2021 budgetary considerations should include a move toward a stronger online presence, which would include securing a tech-savvy communications director and team or a digital marketing agency—or both.

THE CUSTOMER SERVICE CONNECTION

Good customer service is essential to building trust with online consumers. Bots and auto-response features are sub-par communication tools that frustrate and annoy buyers and rarely lead to a successful or satisfactory outcome.

People have been largely isolated for the past year. They want connection with "real" people and solid answers to their specific questions—not a robot trying to guess their needs.

While genuine marketing will help to humanize an organization, a customer service team has the unique opportunity to speak one-on-one with consumers. The endearing importance of this role cannot be minimized.

It may be challenging to find money in the budget for this, but consider that the revenue lost from dissatisfied customers (who will probably also leave bad reviews) could most likely pay for a customer service team. Quality customer service will lead to higher sales satisfaction and coveted word-of-mouth advertising.

CAUSE AND EFFECT

Many of today's consumers want to tie their purchases to a larger purpose or meaning. Companies whose websites feature a clear mission statement that involves "giving back" to worthy causes or making ecologically responsible efforts are experiencing higher growth rates. This trending business model is refreshing and, hopefully, here to stay.

A new year is always a great time to reevaluate. With all of the turmoil that defined 2020, the year also delivered opportunities in the form of challenges. The lessons learned have the potential to catapult businesses to new levels in 2021.

by Joe Altieri
Joe Altieri is a life-long innovator, entrepreneur, and problem solver who turned his cutting-edge invention, FlexScreen--the world's first and only flexible window screen--into a thriving multi-million-dollar company. Since its introduction into the marketplace, FlexScreen has gained international attention and earned multiple awards, drawing interest and eventual partnerships with powerhouse entities, including Global 500 company, Saint Gobain, and American television personality, inventor, and entrepreneur, Lori Greiner (Shark Tank investor and "Queen of QVC).

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