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LBM and the right e-commerce strategy

Venveo founder Zach Williams discusses how pro dealers can compete in the digital world.

BY HBSDealer Staff

Finding the LBM e-commerce solution that allows dealers to match digital wits with the likes of Amazon and Google was at the top of the agenda at the Northeastern Retail Lumber Association’s LBM Expo.

Prior to the show floor opening here at the Hynes Convention Center, Zach Williams discussed how to leverage digital solutions in the LBM Industry at the event’s initial session.

Williams is the founder and CEO of Venveo, an LBM marketing platform.

While he described the subject matter as a “dicey topic,” Williams identified avenues where dealers can carve their own e-commerce space and solutions.

For starters, Williams told dealers to be cautious when selling products via Amazon. Sure, Amazon is a terrific platform for getting your product out into the world and finding buyers. But once it’s out there, Amazon owns the sales data and can pitch cheaper alternatives from other sellers.

Williams also noted how the actual results from product searches on Google continue to be pushed further and further down the page with ads for product receiving top billing.

“Everyone is fighting for the customer,” he said.

If you want evidence that users are searching for building products on Google, searches for fiber cement siding on Google increased 73% in 2019 as composite decking rose 42% and roofing shingles were up 35%.

“What about new customers? You fight for them to come into your store, why aren’t you fighting for them online,” Williams said.

When it came to companies that have a solid grasp on the partnership between e-commerce and LBM, Williams pointed to Iowa pro dealer Spahn & Rose. Williams said that Spahn & Rose utilizes a prebuilt e-commerce store that includes expansive inventory along with in-store pick-up.

“This is super smart – they have an endless aisle of products that they can deliver to people,” he said.

Williams also pointed to vendors who not only sell a product but manufacture it themselves. Typically, they have greater success when battling e-commerce giants.

Delivery is another part of the e-commerce equation that doesn’t necessarily have a perfect solution, especially when it comes to heavy or bulky items such as doors. Williams suggests that more vendors partner with dealers in developing a strategy.

“Manufacturers don’t want to disrupt the dealer relationship, but they see an opportunity for e-commerce and sales,” Williams explained. “A partnership can open up revenue and place the manufacturer and dealer in a position where they are not working against each other.”

 

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