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Tim Forestell
March 28, 2022

eCommerce and Construction: How Online Selling is Changing the Industry

The rise of e-commerce has been an ongoing trend for the past several years. However, it was the COVID-19 pandemic that dramatically accelerated the speed of adoption. This has forced many industries out of their usual business processes. The construction industry went through the same changes.

As an industry that primarily grew through face-to-face interactions and great relationships between contractors and suppliers, construction was not typically seen as being involved or affected by the rise of e-commerce. Circumstances, however, have changed and it is time to adapt. The industry is changing and there are many benefits to this including:

  1. The changing behavior of large industrial suppliers
  2. Buying behavior of contractors
  3. Demographic changes
  4. Research and purchase patterns of consumers

Large Industrial Suppliers are Focused on eCommerce

Big industrial supply players are predicting that the majority of their revenue will come from their e-commerce platforms in the next few years. These forecasts predict a larger jump in e-commerce sales than ever before. W.W Grainger, one of the largest industrial supply companies, is expecting 80% of all sales to be e-commerce sales by 2023. Grainger is not the only company with this outlook either. Fastenal, a wholesale distributor of industrial and construction supplies sees 35% of all sales from e-commerce and expects that number to jump to 80% in the near future. These suppliers are investing a lot of resources and effort into being positioned to take over the e-commerce market as they realize that the world is quickly shifting to this structure of product offering.

Contractors Buying Behavior

Contractors rent heavy equipment regularly and that is not likely to change. However, the rental process is changing drastically. Approximately 34% of contractors believe that all of their rental transactions will take place online in the coming years. This makes sense as more and more calls are taking place virtually or on their phones. The industry is still relatively behind in this sector as 80% of rental companies are not able to rent their equipment out through online transactions.

Only companies who have the resources to invest in scaling out their online and e-commerce offerings have been able to make the switch. Creating and launching your online profile can be a daunting task that many suppliers aren’t sure if it’s worth the investment. However, as the data above suggests, e-commerce is affecting every industry and it’s becoming harder to ignore. As more young entrepreneurs enter the industry, they will be looking for ways to leverage technology to grow their business and creating your eCommerce strategy is a great starting point.

Buyer Demographics

As new generations take over the market, change is inevitable. Buyers are getting younger. In fact, 73% of B2B buyers are millennials (people born between 1981-1994). Millennials prefer to research and purchase online with the generation doing about 60% of their shopping online. This trend is not only for personal shopping needs, it is carrying over into business related purchases as well. The generations that are younger than the millennials will only accelerate the trend of online purchasing when it is their time to run the business.

Research and Purchase Patterns of Consumers

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With all of the information you could imagine available at your fingertips, it only makes sense that consumers are researching potential purchases online. When someone is ready to make a purchase based on their research, it is convenient to be able to purchase the product online as well. Companies must look to adapt to these behaviors and implement the modern technology that is driving this movement. 

Showing reviews and ratings can motivate consumers to make purchases when they are satisfied with the product’s score. Software allows businesses to personalize consumers’ experiences based on their research and previous purchases which saves time for both parties. We have seen this in all industries and it is now becoming popular for suppliers and contractors in construction.

Adapting To a New Construction Industry

The e-commerce wave is taking over construction and those who don’t make the necessary changes may be left behind. While the industry has primarily functioned on in-person supplier and contractor relationships and face-to-face interaction, to scale your business, an online presence is needed. While you don’t have to dive face first into providing online purchasing capabilities, it would be helpful to get your feet wet. As the industry continues to desire more mobile, online transactions, simplicity and transparency will still be the key to customer satisfaction. E-commerce platforms that allow for personalized search results and customer ratings and reviews are going to dominate the next era of the construction industry. 

At DOZR, we’re getting suppliers online for free with our DOZR marketplace and helping them launch and develop their e-commerce sites through our DOZR WebStores. For more information about how to bring more online bookings to your own store, schedule a free demo.

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Tim Forestell
Tim Forestell is one of DOZR’s co-founders and CCO. Tim got started in the industry as VP Operations for Forestell Landscaping before founding DOZR with Kevin and Erin. Aside from the amazing team at DOZR, his favourite thing about DOZR are the customers. Working with DOZR renters every day gives him a peek at the evolution of different projects and hearing stories about projects being developed from start to finish.
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