Chris Fisher, VP of EMEA, LBMH Division at ECI Software Solutions, explains why builders' merchants who embrace and adapt to the digital era will thrive in a rapidly changing business landscape.

Builders' merchants play a crucial role in the ever evolving landscape of the construction industry. However, to remain competitive and meet the evolving needs of customers, those in the trade must embrace digitalisation. This transformation not only streamlines operations but also enhances customer experiences and opens doors to new opportunities.

Digitalisation involves integrating digital technologies into various aspects of a business to improve efficiency, productivity and customer service, all of which are essential to staying relevant in today's market.

For example, implementing digital tools and software can significantly streamline inventory management, order processing and supply chain operations.

Using such digital technology can also optimise stock levels, reduce manual errors and ensure that the right products are in stock at the right time.

This is important because consumers now expect a seamless online experience. Digitalisation helps create user-friendly websites, online catalogues and responsive, accurate e-commerce platforms for greater convenience all around.

In addition to enabling customers to simply browse products, place orders and track deliveries, all-important customer satisfaction and loyalty get major boosts.

Digitalisation is all about generating vast amounts of data that can be swiftly analysed to gain insights into customer behaviour, market trends and operational efficiency. Builders' merchants in particular can make far more informed decisions and adapt to changing market dynamics quickly and more effectively.

The digital tools now available, such as EvolutionX by ECI Software Solutions, provide the ability to track inventory levels that help to avoid overstocking by optimising stock levels, reducing carrying costs and minimising the risk of running short. That’s because real-time tracking and automated reordering ensure that products are always available when needed.

By investing in a robust e-commerce platform, builders' merchants can provide customers with a convenient way to browse and purchase products online. This generally includes features like product catalogues, secure payment options and order tracking.

Integrating digital tools into the supply chain can also help traders optimise delivery routes and enhance communication with suppliers, leading to faster and more reliable deliveries.

If you extend the use of digitalisation into CRM systems, the technology enables users to manage customer information more effectively, personalise marketing efforts and provide more relevant customer support.

After all, building strong customer relationships is essential to maintain an edge in a competitive market.

Leveraging data analytics tools can provide valuable insights into customer behaviour and market trends. Builders' merchants can use this information to further improve their product offerings and marketing strategies.

Digitalisation is no longer an option for those in the trade who want to flourish in the modern construction industry, it is now a necessity for streamlining operations, improving the customer experience and positioning themselves for growth.

The benefits of the initial investment soon accrue in terms of efficiency, profitability and competitiveness.

It’s no hyperbole to say that builders' merchants who embrace and adapt to the digital era will not only keep pace but thrive in a rapidly changing business landscape.