The findings have been published in a new report, Builders Merchants Share Top Predictions for 2022 by ECI, a software specialist for building trade suppliers.
Investment in recruitment and digital capabilities will be needed to tackle mounting challenges in the year ahead, according to a poll of builders’ merchants.
Continuing price fluctuations, materials availability and labour shortages were all highlighted as some of the top concerns for suppliers and the construction industry.
Cost pressures are already being felt across the supply chain, from stock purchasing and shipping, to fuel and wages – at a time when firms are under growing pressure to become more sustainable.
Stefano Lebban, director of Herts Tool Company, said firms would need to invest in recruitment and salaries: “As construction workers reach retirement age, fewer people are entering the industry to replace them. The growing difficulty of sourcing labour and attracting younger talent is a pressing issue and may impact supply and demand in 2022. Businesses will need to increase their spending on recruitment as well as the salaries of existing staff to secure skills that are in short supply.”
Builders’ merchants were also urged to invest in their digital capabilities to reflect changing customer habits, as more merchants invest in their own e-commerce stores.
Cass Heaphy, Digital Director at Paving Direct, said: “All businesses need to fully adopt digital strategies that allow them to provide consumers with the products and services they need remotely and in a joined-up omnichannel way.”
Andy Scothern, eCommonSense Founder at ECI, said: “While there are always factors outside a business’ control, the past two years have clearly been challenging. However, there are plenty of examples of forward-thinking builders’ merchants who’ve used e-commerce to tap into high demand for materials from both the trade and public. Using digital tools to develop robust back-office processes is also important since it helps businesses to reduce costs and uncertainty.”