IMARK NOW Electrical Summer 2019: E-Customer Service: If You Build It, Will They Come?
by Susan Bloom, for IMARK NOW Electrical, Summer 2019
In the most recent IMARK Electrical NOW e-magazine, five members (four of them Second Phase customers) were interviewed about the challenges and opportunities in bringing their e-commerce channel to market and “why distributors who don’t offer this capability may end up driving customers to competitors who do.”
Andrew Montgomery, United Electric Supply
- Current and future generations expect, and prefer, to do business online—it’s a built-in assumption, not a replacement for paper and pen…These customers are going to purchase online, whether it’s from us or not.
- Customer adoption is difficult partly because we already do a great job of serving them through traditional channels. If a customer needs a copy of an invoice, tell them, “I can get you that, but did you know that it’s available on our website 24/7?”
Lalena Kotasek, Blazer Electric Supply
- We have seen a 175% increase in online revenue between 2018 to 2019 and a nearly 10-fold increase in average monthly online sales between 2015 and 2019.
- Having outside salespeople who are strong advocates of the webstore and can support the effort is a must for any distributor.
Paul Switzer, Shepherd Electric Supply
- E-commerce isn’t going away, and demand will only increase. Customers are looking for ways to improve efficiency and effectiveness and expect on-demand, self-service at all hours of the day. As a distributor, you know the value of being a resource to your customers and e-commerce is a unique way you can serve them.
- In addition to picking a good webstore platform and partner, other challenges include transparency—customers expect your website to have their pricing and real-time inventory available.
John Russ, Edges Electrical Group
- I would strongly recommend pursuing an e-commerce solution to ensure that your customers are looking to your company for solutions and innovative ways of doing business. If your customers aren’t looking to you for solutions, they’ll find them with your competition.
- There’s a steady growth of customers who are interested in our solutions to make their daily workflow a little easier. Customers are extremely interested in seeing their pricing, the availability of products, spec sheets and their invoices.