International Timber, the UK's leading importer and distributor of bespoke and sustainable timber, highlights effective ways that builders’ merchants can increase timber sales.

Developing a successful sales strategy requires an investment of time. Instead of just considering the purchase stage, you need to factor in everything leading towards and following this.

The buyer's journey begins when it becomes aware of your product, and continues with it as it gains more information. At the final stages, a consumer will decide whether to buy the item, with the process ending when it receives the product.

Your company should aim to support potential customers at every stage of their buying journey, whether by giving advice, enhancing the accessibility of your advice, and ensuring each experience a potential customer has with your business is a positive one. 

There are many benefits of timber as a building material, including durability, a striking appearance, and thermal insulation, which will help secure sales. However, you can't solely rely on your product's quality, especially if you're operating in a competitive industry. Your company ethos and customer service should also give you an additional advantage. 

To develop an efficient plan for boosting your sales of timber products, here are five measures to put in place. 

Source timber sustainably 

Due to the enhanced awareness of the climate crisis, many people prioritise sustainability when making purchases. Ethical businesses with green policies are far more desirable than companies that don't make the effort to include this in their company values.  

Timber is a more sustainable type of cladding than many other building materials as it absorbs carbon and can be recycled or reused as biofuel. However, you also need to source timber sustainably to lower your company's and customers' environmental impact.

Ensure any wood-based materials you stock are harvested from well-managed and certified forests to mitigate the risk of deforestation. These responsible forests are replenished continuously and kept from harming the surrounding area. 

Highlight your company's support towards this cause on your website and to your customers. Mention other ways you're helping the environment, too, such as recycling and lowering energy consumption.

International Timber integrates environmental considerations into every business decision. As well as aiming for full Chain of Custody certified timber cladding, the company recycles or recovers over 95% of their waste, with less than five per cent going to landfill. 

Suitable storage conditions 

Inefficient storage facilities can hinder the timber's quality by causing problems, such as discolouration, shrinking, decaying, and splitting. This damage could force you to cancel or delay orders, which could damage your company’s reputation and force your customers to go elsewhere and to your competitors.

To avoid this outcome, store inventory in a clean, enclosed, and well-ventilated area that keeps the timber dry and prevents moisture build-up. Put protective coverings on the products too. 

Place the timber on a flat and structured surface, such as pallets, to avoid warping, leaving enough surrounding space to allow for adequate air circulation.  

User-friendly website 

Many consumers browse and buy products online for enhanced convenience. If you don’t have a user-friendly website, you’ll be drastically limiting your sale opportunities. It’s not enough to just have a website, though, as when selling high-value products like timber, a poor design can do more harm than good. Many users won't wait longer than three seconds for a page to load before clicking off and choosing another website. 

Your website should load quickly, be easy to navigate, and look aesthetically pleasing, to enhance the user experience. Your website should also include information about your company and products, make the checkout process simple, and have clear call-to-actions to help customers move onto the next stage of the buyer’s journey.

To ensure your consumers can find your website, increase its visibility by incorporating search engine optimisation tactics into your marketing campaigns too.

Customer service

Train your staff sufficiently, so they know how to secure a sale. Your employees should know everything about your timber products in case potential customers have questions. Otherwise, if your team doesn't seem knowledgeable about your speciality, your company could lose credibility and authority, causing people to use your competitors instead. 

In particular, your employees should know timber’s unique selling points and benefits. This knowledge can help your workers identify upsell opportunities too.

Encourage your team to provide solutions to customers' problems, listen to their requirements, and be honest, instead of just pushing products they may not need and making them feel pressured. It's also important not to overpromise, as this can lead to disappointment and negative reviews. 

After making a sale, ask your customers for feedback on improving products and service in the future. If the feedback is glowing, see if they will write positive reviews or even make recommendations to friends and family.    

Home delivery service 

Many consumers appreciate the ease of a buying process, and it can be a deciding factor when choosing between companies. Offering scheduled home delivery of your timber products instead of only providing the option to collect the order is extremely beneficial to busy customers or those who don’t have the means to transport timber. 

Your delivery service should be fast and reliable to meet expectations and avoid giving consumers a negative impression of your company. As the delivery is the final stage of the buying journey, a poor experience can invalidate any positive customer service previously provided. 

Providing quality timber products, investing in your team's expertise, and simplifying the buying process for consumers, will help you maximise your timber sales.