Digital Transformation and Builders Merchants

Sept. 10, 2020 |  Categories:  blog  

To understand the need for Digital Transformation, it's important to first understand what it is!

‘Digital Transformation’ is now a mainstream phase which has been coined by big ticket tech companies for years, but as we trade through a period of remote working on a scale never seen before, this concept is becoming more widely recognised as a means to enhance and progress business infrastructure with a view to facilitating operational and value adding behaviours.

In a fast paced environment where global barriers to trade are lower than ever, despite political tensions / onshoring / Brexit, digital transformation has become a necessary ingredient for continued growth as well as market preservation. Howard King, in a contributed article for The Guardian, puts it this way: “Businesses don't transform by choice because it is expensive and risky. Businesses go through transformation when they have failed to evolve.”

We've found that a lot of merchants have processes in place that worked 10-15 years ago (or even longer), but in the current age of smartphones and 24/7 communication these processes can quickly become obsolete and can ultimately become an obstacle to business growth. As you grow you will inevitably employ more staff, you may employ a multi-location business model and hopefully sell to an increased volume of customers. This is all great but having appropriate processes in place to support and stimulate may require some thought and ultimately some investment.

Digital transformation covers every area of the business but let's focus on this from a sales and revenue generating perspective.

Digital checklist for all builders merchants that supports sales:
Functioning website that is engaging, shows a product list and supports buying online:
Customers want and expect the platform to be able to look up items on the go be it from a mobile device or a computer.
Purchasing and arranging delivery or collection for goods via click and collect should not be reserved for retail giants.
A lot of merchants websites are too cluttered and lack clear and compelling CTAs. Sites that aren’t user friendly mean missed opportunity - every visitor is a potential customer so ensure your website is converting.
With Covid-19, buying online will undoubtedly be the more popular option for customers - where available - if you don't support purchasing online, your competitors will.
Internal employee systems such as CRM and Quote Management Software that are easy to use:
Building and maintaining relationships with stakeholders during times of uncertainty and crisis will help companies survive and this can be achieved more successfully through the adoption of digital innovations such as intuitive CRMs.
CRMs give you better knowledge of your customers in lots of ways such as previous purchases, outstanding quotations as well as an insight into the typical lead time for that customer
Giving employees an effective CRM must be seen as a basic tool in the pursuit of sales. CRMs give all of the information that a sales agent needs in order to reach out to prospective customers and chase business. Following up on quotations via phone and email is much harder when there aren't the tools to support the activity. This would cut sales lead time, improve sales conversion and also improve customer service.
Identify buying behaviours through data analysis which will aid in activities such as outreach and marketing and will also help with things like analysing buying trends to improve stock levels.
Data Analytics:
Having a functioning website and internal systems is the start but it's necessary to be able to analyse the information that those tools give you.
Website traffic - are you getting a lot of traffic but sales are stagnant? Analysis of this data will help you identify strategies for converting this traffic into £££.
Having an effective CRM and Quote Management System will help identify things like purchase lead time, size of pipeline and potential stock issues.
Management will want data available in a dashboard format which is easy to interpret and shows real time information. Having real-time info is vital as businesses now more than ever need to make better decisions with quicker response to changes in the markets.

The above 3 points give a high level view of areas that you should be looking at when forming your digital transformation strategy with a focus on revenue generating activity. Often, in order to implement the change needed to transform quickly, it is a good idea to involve a digital transformation partner who can advise and develop software/processes that will be quicker to roll out with mitigated risk.

As the Covid-19 pandemic still has a grip on the world, companies who are slow to adapt new processes will be those that fail.

A couple of takeaways to consider:

Today’s customers are used to using tech when researching and buying goods. Is your online presence fit for purpose?
Merchants must enhance the customer experience and build relationships. Do your existing processes support good customer service?

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