eCommerce seems to continue creeping into the daily operations of traditionally heavy industry. There have been many examples of this in recent months across a broad swath of heavy industry. Part of this is driven by necessity while for others, the events of the pandemic have created the right conditions to make digital upgrades. Many companies have responded by making those key capital investments at a period of much uncertainty for numerous businesses. Some companies are acting out of desperation to mitigate poor recent sales. Regardless, eCommerce is playing more of a role in more aspects of our every daily interaction.
Earlier this week, West Virginia based electrical distributor State Electric Supply Company announced it has transformed its website into a seamless B2B business experience. The company is doing this by implementing the Progress Sitefinity Distribution Experience Platform together with others. They include on-site search tool Hawksearch and web platform ROC commerce. This proactive step is driving user engagement by increasing new registration and conversation rates by a significant 120%. Organic web traffic has also since increased in excess of 40% which has spiked revenue made from site search by a whopping 244%.
Elsewhere, Connecticut based manufacturer Terex Utilities launched an eCommerce platform to change the buying experience of the current customer base. It provides a “one stop” shopping experience for tools and accessories sold in Terex’s traditional product catalog. This includes climbing equipment and traffic safety gear among other things. It makes online part manuals for various Terex Utilities units browsable from the new site allowing easy click-to-cart capabilities. This is part of a larger effort to improve the digital customer experience and expand the potential customer base. Similar investments in eCommerce are being made by Terex’s competitors in heavy industry.
Even the construction industry has been forced to come to terms with the advantages of incorporating eCommerce to their operations. Interestingly, this was happening prior to the current COVID pandemic although many in the industry feel impervious to the shift in eCommerce. They are wrong. This is mainly because their customers have also changed and the adaptation curve is merely in its infancy in construction. Industry attitudes have changed and customers prefer a self service as opposed to the old system of going through a sales rep according to McKinsey.
Buyers and contractors are getting much younger as more than 70% of them are currently millennials. Most Millennial tend to do shopping online and usually research before making buying decisions. Added to the increase in mobile usage for B2B sales and the situation in looking bleaker for technologic laggards going forward. In excess of 90% of customers would patronize a business again after a effective mobile experience as oppose to 50% after a poor experience.
Stakeholders in the industry no longer have a choice. OEM distributors (Original equipment manufacturer) is changing fast. Aerial lift manufacturer JLG has created a direct to customer eCommerce channel to make it easy to buy and ship equipment to customers. This gives them the opportunity to gather customer data and create a tailored digital experience. Amazon is also a constant an looming threat for traditional players in the construction industry. The eCommerce giant in 2018 did $6 billion in maintenance, repair and operations supply products. It proved to be the leading category in Amazon Business – Amazon’s B2B marketplace. Amazon Business is expected to grow by 115% yearly till 2023 while its retail business will grow a more modest 24% by that time. The demand for a superior digital experience will outlast the COVID pandemic, players in construction must act fast.