Updated: Sep 13
Launches and announcements of new e-commerce systems these past few weeks will enable notable advances for many construction supply dealers. Online pricing and services for pro customers aren't in the packages, but these improvements are robust enough to challenge many dealers to upgrade their operations--particularly in inventory control--to take advantage of online opportunities.
Do it Best launched a new website in early September that's meant primarily to serve as an online store for its 3,000 members. The store has information on 1.6 million products and, starting in October, will facilitate same-day BOPIS--Buy Online, Pickup in Store--while also permitting direct-to-home delivery.
Do it Best members are urged to create their own subsites (e.g. DoItBest.com/XYZlumber) and then customize their microsite with local products, special offers, and personalized messaging. There also are tie-ins with the Best Rewards membership program and its record of past purchases that will help personalize what a person sees during future online visits.
What the site won't do yet is quote custom prices for pros. Do it Best executives said they are working with the creators of members' ERP systems to create interfaces with the online store. Doing that will help make it possible one day for the co-op's dealers to write individualized pricing rules. In the meantime, the price shown on the online store will be the same for all.
Do it Best's new site resulted from more than a year of active development by a co-op that has drastically ramped up its information technology capabilities. Since September 2022, Do it Best has hired roughly two dozen fulltimers and interns for its IT and e-commerce divisions.
Users of ECI's Spruce system soon will have another online option in the form of Spruce eCommerce. Announced July 20, this system also will make possible in-store pickup or delivery options, plus online payment of individual purchases as well as monthly invoices. "Spruce eCommerce features built-in marketing tools such as abandoned carts, content pages, blog tool, drag and drop layouts, rewards and loyalty programs, badges, banners, customer segmentation, reports and Google Analytics," the company added in a press release.
Because both the Do it Best store and Spruce eCommerce permit BOPIS, offering same-day pickup will push dealers to track their inventory much closely than many do today. Otherwise, they might have to avoid providing information about whether a product is in stock. That's an omission that could cost them sales.
ECI says it believes its new eCommerce system will make life easier to keep track of inventory because the online store and Spruce are interconnected. But rather than bring up having too little stock, ECI suggested eCommerce's link with the rest of Spruce will help dealers avoid overstocking.
Dealers also will have so much more data available to them that they're likely to need help figuring out which numbers to track. And they will be urged to spend more time refreshing their sites. Given estimates that 80% of consumers research products online before going to a store, these refreshes are just another form of marketing.
While not an e-commerce solution, DMSi's new Frameworks point of sale/ERP system adds to the recent list of tech advances. One of Framework's advantages is that is runs completely on the web and can be accessed through a web browser, making it possible to use the system on a smartphone or tablet as well as a desktop computer. Frameworks is the dominant LBM software in Australia and New Zealand, DMSi said. The company that originally developed it, Sterland Computing, was purchased by DMSi in 2019.