The hardware and tools industry was among the hardest hit during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, due to production and manufacturing delays and logistics disruptions. But the industry quickly turned around, fueled by both an increase in consumers’ DIY home repair and improvement projects and the overall boom in construction. Product sales in the home improvement and repair segment spiked 8.7% compared to the previous year, and as many as 90% of homeowners had projects planned going into 2021, according to an Axiom study.
Even with surging demand, there’s a significant growth opportunity for B2B eCommerce in the hardware and tools industry. Many in the space have already accelerated their digital push as the pandemic shifted shopping behaviors. What happens next for businesses that suddenly found themselves surging and for those that are in recovery will depend on how fully and rapidly they embrace eCommerce and digital channels.
How the B2B eCommerce Boom has Changed the Game
Once nice to have, eCommerce is now a must-have, offering businesses access to more markets and global supply, greater operational flexibility, and the resilience to survive and thrive during challenging times.
Traditionally, B2B companies have relied on building their supplier relationships face-to-face at trade shows and in factories and offices. With travel and in-person meetings restricted because of the pandemic last year, buyers and sellers were forced to tap into the value of digital tools. Now, 93% of U.S. companies are doing some portion of their B2B business online, and 43% are using eCommerce, according to an Alibaba.com study. Digital capabilities made all the difference for many businesses last year, serving as a lifeline to rapidly adapt to new and unprecedented social distancing norms. Going digital helped businesses across the country reimagine their operating models overnight, reach new customers and mitigate interruptions by diversifying their supply chains and accessing a global supplier base. Shifting to digital has also given businesses key data and insights into customer habits and needs.
The hardware and tools industry is no exception with eCommerce driving the market forward as millions of consumers and customers shifted from shopping in-store to buying online for delivery or curbside pickup. Going forward, one thing is clear: eCommerce is here to stay.
Why Hardware and Tools Dealers Put Their Trust in Alibaba.com
As one of the world’s largest online B2B and wholesale marketplaces, Alibaba.com connects millions of business buyers with suppliers of all sizes across more than 200 countries and regions, offering a suite of powerful tools built specifically for B2B trade. Business buyers and procurement professionals can discover new products and manufacturers and place orders efficiently and securely with end-to-end trade enablement features, and sellers are able to reach global demand for their products. With Alibaba.com, companies can:
- Expand their international footprint. The inherently global nature of the more than 200,000 suppliers on Alibaba.com allows buyers to grow their supplier base digitally without the need to travel. Time zones become unimportant, allowing business discovery and communication 24/7. According to an Alibaba.com survey of U.S. B2B companies, the top benefits of online sourcing cited by buyers include finding suppliers more quickly (53%), reducing the need for travel (44%), greater purchasing power (38%), and higher profit margins (38%).
The Alibaba.com Summer Online Trade Show
Benefits of the online experience include:
- Premium connections. Buyers can easily reach out to selected suppliers with outstanding products and services, from R&D and tailor-made design to customer service and order fulfillment.
- Exclusive VIP pavilion access. For the most efficient experience possible, there will be a dedicated “VIP Pavilion” where the top one percent of Alibaba.com buyers can meet and negotiate directly with managers rated four stars and above from more than 1,000 suppliers.
- Cutting-edge industry insights. Businesses will be able to hear from Alibaba.com leaders like John Caplan, President, North America & Europe, and Flora Yan, Head of Integrated Marketing as well as Dirk Kowslowski, Director of IFA, Kai Hattendorf, CEO of Ufi and learn from successful buyers and sellers on Alibaba.com during the trade show opening ceremony. In-depth industrial reports filled with data and trends from Alibaba.com will also be available.
- Pro Buyer Discounts. Businesses who have upgraded to Pro Buyer status on or before June 27 can receive a US $100 coupon to use on Alibaba.com.
- Optimize shipping efficiencies. Buyers can place large orders with international sellers to take advantage of transparent, reliable, and cost-effective shipping and logistics services, simplifying the entire process. Intelligent algorithms recommend the best routes, and multiple freight forwarders and carriers are available to ensure end-to-end transparency and real-time tracking.
- Source securely from around the world. Alibaba.com supports over ten major global payment methods and more than 50 currencies worldwide. To reduce the risk of global trade, buyers who purchase on the Alibaba.com platform can use the free proprietary order protection escrow service, Alibaba.com Trade Assurance. Through Trade Assurance, if anything goes wrong, such as issues with quality or shipping delays, Alibaba.com will assist in reaching a satisfactory outcome, including getting your money back.
- Access trusted suppliers. To help business buyers source efficiently and screen for quality, the “Verified” logo will appear alongside professional suppliers that have been verified by independent third parties for industry-specific qualifications and services. When searching for product details or through company profiles, buyers can see these suppliers’ strengths like corporate qualification, product qualification, and corporate capabilities.
To make it even easier, Alibaba.com recently launched an always-on Elite Partner Event where buyers can find high-quality products and suppliers in one place. This vetted group of global suppliers features innovative, new technologies and products in a variety of categories to help enhance your competitive edge. In the hardware and tools space, Alibaba.com Verified Supplier and Elite Partner Topcent has been a leader in developing furniture hardware accessories.
Topcent, a one-stop furniture hardware solution provider, is focused not just on creating products for customers like furniture factories, hardware traders, building materials retailers, construction contractors, but also on tapping their 50-person R&D and testing team to regularly develop new, innovative products. For example, they have a new product in the process of launching that is a buffer hinge made of nano-titanium alloy electroplating, which is made of cold-rolled steel. This makes it anti-rust for longer and results in an innovative and extremely cost-effective product. They also have a global patented soft closing hinge, which is characterized by 4D adjustment, including adjustable soft-closing speed – a novel design with the buffer device in the hinge boss.
Started in 1986, Topcent now has more than 10,000 SKUs across 35 product categories with customers in more than 150 countries and regions, which is why Alibaba.com hand-selected them to join the Elite Partner Event. Topcent offers a rich furniture hardware product line and product categories, one-stop solutions, multi-language professional service support, and a professional cooperation service system that can greatly improve buyers' procurement efficiency and reduce buyers' procurement cost and communication cost, as well as reduce their cooperation risk. Topcent will be one of the 10,000 suppliers showcasing at the Alibaba.com Online Trade Show | Summer edition.
Alibaba.com Online Trade Show | Summer: Premium suppliers. Efficient sourcing.
Trade shows have been an incredibly valuable channel for B2B businesses to discover new suppliers and products and drive their bottom line. While in-person global shows are still on hold, Alibaba.com has been hosting a series of online trade shows that have resulted in tens of thousands of new connections.
Alibaba.com Online Trade Show | Summer kicks off on June 14 and lasts through June 27 and will feature more than 10,000 premium suppliers across a spectrum of 30-plus categories.
“The Alibaba.com Summer Online Trade Show is a two-week event available 24/7 on the Alibaba.com platform, where business buyers and sellers from around the globe can meet and do business with one another from the safety and convenience of their homes and offices,” said John Caplan, President of North America and Europe, Alibaba.com. “Our new Online Trade Show experience makes it even easier for professional business buyers to connect and collaborate with premium suppliers, so that they can source more efficiently, effectively, and with ease.”
Attend the Show
The event kicks off on June 14 with a session on the Future of Events, and businesses in the tools and hardware industry can attend Alibaba.com Online Trade Show | Summer through June 27, here. High-quality suppliers are just a click away.