Builders’ merchants depend on one constant to survive: that their business continues to be the go-to supplier for builders in their area. Obvious? Yes. Easy? No.

Builders, like any consumers, will go with the easier flow. If it’s quicker and simpler to get what they need elsewhere, they will. And it doesn’t get quicker or easier for consumers than simply going online.

Despite the widespread adoption of eCommerce solutions in almost all other areas of retail, traditional builders’ merchants have been surprisingly slow to make the switch. Most lack a decent website, let alone a comprehensive, clear and efficient eCommerce solution, and almost all lack a digital marketing strategy to make the most of it.

To survive, let alone thrive, builders’ merchants need to shake off their complacency and stop believing that builders will continue to buy from them in the same way forever. “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” doesn’t mean their traditional way of doing business isn’t breaking down.

The solution? Step out of the builders’ merchant store and into the work-boots of your consumers. What do they want? What do they need?

“Builders are desperate for a differentiator to make them stand out to homeowners” says Andy Scothern, Managing Director of builders’ merchants website specialists eCommonSense. He cites the time-consuming process of quoting as a prime example. “An accurate quote can take four, eight, or more hours to put together and, when you win one in three jobs, that is 12 to 24+ hours work for every job won.”

Added to that, he says, 10 to 14 days elapse between a homeowner contacting a builder for quote and the builder providing the quote, which is time lost for everybody and annoying for the homeowner, who often has to chase the builder to get a price.

The value of switching to eCommerce

Imagine, says Andy, if a builder could immediately access the merchants’ prices, check they’re in stock, compile a quote with a full bill of materials, add profit margin and labour and a contract, then send it to their customers in under an hour by email.
With such a detailed and speedy response, builders would quickly stand out for homeowners and start winning more work – the purchases for which all coming back to the builders’ merchants.

But eCommerce needs an e-strategy to really sell

Clearly, developing an eCommerce website is the first vital step for builders’ merchants to cement their long-term relevancy and build future profits. But unless they also develop a robust digital marketing strategy to maximise their investment in that website, they’ll be relying on painfully slow organic growth – with even slower behavioral changes from their customers – when what they need is fast and effective transformation to beat the competition.

And that’s where E-Merchant Accelerator comes in.

E-Merchant Accelerator makes it easy for builders’ merchants to switch-up and protect their business by integrating two essential and complementary services: a world-class eCommerce trading platform from merchant website specialists eCommonSense, and a proven digital marketing strategy from the UK’s leading strategic brand and marketing agency for the built environment CMDi.

Together, this unique team of sector specialists has developed a turnkey solution that can be tailored to merchants’ specific stage of digital transformation – quickly and cost-effectively.

“Wherever you are with your digital transformation programme,” says Managing Director of CMDi Dianne Lucas, “talk to us and see how E-Merchant Accelerator will get you there faster.”

E-Merchant Accelerator is supported by the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF). CEO John Newcomb describes the programme as “a vital tool to help our members get future fit fast”.

For more information you can view our E-Merchant Accelerator service page, or contact Dianne Lucas, MD, CMDi on 01483 924766 / or Andy Scothern, MD, eCommonSense on 01156 975975 /

E-Merchant Accelerator icon


Find out more