Putting the "e" into eCommerce

An approach to winning: Entrepreneurial, Efficient and (E)nspirational. 

Back at the International Builders’ Show in 2014, coach Jon Gruden in his keynote speech joked about his locker room pep covering the “Four ‘E’s of success: Energy, Effort, Enthusiasm and Intensity.

One of the players interrupted: “Coach, I get what you’re saying. But ‘enthusiasm’ doesn’t begin with an ‘e.’”

Those were simpler times.

Gruden’s pep talk looms large over this editorial page at the close of 2020 as another “e” word packs images of strategic play calling, team work and smash-mouth competition. That “e” word is “eCommerce.”

In the past couple days (as I type), the world’s largest home improvement retailer described an 80% increase in “sales leveraging the Home Depot’s digital platforms.” At Lowe’s, CEO Marvin Ellison pointed to an increase in sales at of 106%. Also,’s quarterly sales increased 221%.

Now do we have your attention?

Let’s leave Amazon aside for another day, and get to the meat of this limited, 400-word essay. eCommerce is a huge story. So, what are the rules of success for the independent hardware and building supply dealer in this environment. Based on a series of interviews with retailers and experts, HBSDealer has compiled the following approach.

Coach Gruden would call it the “Three E’s.”

• Be Entrepreneurial.

Off-the-rack solutions might lead to eCommerce success. Maybe. But successful e-tailers always seem to have a trial-and-error approach in their background. They look at their business with an open mind, embrace new ideas and continue to try new approaches.

• Be Efficient.

It’s safe to say that very few independents have the ability recruit away office rooms of engineers and programmers from silicon valley giants. They have to be smart in their approach. Dealers are well advised to lean on the work of their buying groups or co-ops, where eCommerce solutions have taken elevated importance. Sharing best practices is the best path to efficient operations.

• Be (E)nspirational

Your business is unique. Your website should be unique. The advantage that independents in the brick and mortal world – friendly, local, knowledgeable – need to translate to the dealer’s digital platform, inspiring loyalty and generating new customers.

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Jon Gruden probably received low five figures for telling his “Four Es” story at the International Builders Show. But we’re giving you our “Three Es” here for free. More importantly, HBSDealer is hammering on the topic of eCommerce on our website with a series of free webinars dedicated to the topic.

You can check them out at And when you do tell us what you think at [email protected].

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