The benefits of digitalization in materials trading

There digitization of points of sale responds to the need to increase business performance. Faced with changes in consumption habits and habits and the rise of competition in line with digital transformation, the need for digitalization is unavoidable in the materials trade.

Between customer experience, omnichannel, service offer, warehouse automation, data flow management… Here are 4 advantages of point-of-sale digitization and how to take advantage of them in your business.

1. Offer a differentiating customer experience

The health crisis, the appearance of new competitors (pure players, diversified DIY brands, online market platforms, etc.) and the transformation of consumer habits have completely changed the customer journey. Whatever the sector of activity, and in particular for trade in construction materials, traders must more than ever reinvent the customer experience. The latter is better informed, more volatile, more demanding and ultra-connected.

Thus, the digitization of customer relations and transactions is essential to face ever-increasing competition and to maintain comparison. Our advice: bet on phygital! Expression resulting from the contraction of the words “physical” and “digital”, it refers directly to the digitalization of the point of sale. It’s about offering a differentiating customer experience by integrating digital tools, connected to the Internet, in the store, to enrich the customer relationship and interactions with your brand, your products and services, your company globally, in store. True competitiveness leverphygital offers major advantages in terms of digitization for building materials traders:

  • You offer a seamless in-store experience: your customers can find product information on their smartphone or via terminals installed on the shelves, payment can be done on the move without losing contact with the salesperson, etc.
  • You make product recommendations adapted to expectations, using a tablet connected to your product catalog and your stock information, to suggest alternatives, find out about availability in real time, provide an expert view of your offer .
  • You offer a physical store experience that fully integrates the benefits of digital (for example: viewing a demonstration video of a product on the shelves).

Far from being opposed to in-store sales, digitalization makes it possible to multiply the points of contact with your potential customers and to strengthen the customer experience at the point of sale. As a trader, you thus play on all sides and offer a distinctive advisory advantage compared to marketplaces and pure players which are exclusively online.

2. Bet on a quality omnichannel offer

Beyond phygital, the digitization of the point of sale makes it possible to address the new expectations of customers in terms of the quality of the product and service offer. Better informed and also more rigorous in their consumption, today’s clientele has high expectations. Faced with a booming energy renovation market, the consequences of the ecological transition and the growth of the circular economy, consumers attach more and more importance to the products placed on the market. Origin of raw materials, country of manufacture, energy performance, etc. are all information they seek before purchasing and throughout the customer journey.

Learn more: Extended producer responsibility (EPR): what impact for materials traders?

The increasing complexity of the product and service offer requires focusing on omnichannel. As a reminder, it is the presence on all the channels of your company, everywhere, and all the time, in order to offer a continuous customer experience and to meet expectations in a coherent way. An omnichannel strategy is a great advantage of digitalization for materials traders:

  • You approach your customers better, since you extend your online catchment area and reach your targets on various channels, at the most relevant times of the day;
  • You refine customer relations by accompanying consumers throughout the process, from researching information to comparing competing offers, from personalizing products to payment and withdrawal according to the mode chosen;
  • You facilitate administrative procedures by dematerializing them and saving time for your customers, for example with the establishment of estimates by a technical sales representative, in real time and on the move in the field.

Betting on omnichannel allows you to offer a set of services that are added to your product offer. E-commerce platform, web-to-store services (click and collect, drive, etc.), presence on social networks and other media that support customers in their choices, etc. are all channels for a better customer experience. Moreover, this omnipresence is an excellent way to keep an eye on the competition in the construction sector and to be on the lookout for the actions implemented.

In order to promote this product/service offer with all its key information (data, techniques, prices, stocks, availability, etc.), the centralization of CRM data is unavoidable. The commercial and sales consultant professions are the first to be impacted by changes in customer relations. It is therefore necessary to provide them with the tools to improve the customer experience at the point of sale and on the move.

3. Optimize your logistics organization

The complexity of product and service offerings has a direct impact on the logistics organization of materials trading. A report produced for the Joint National Commission for Employment and Vocational Training trade in construction materials recalls in particular the impact of digitization on the trades in the sector. On the supply chain side, to cope with the diversity of distribution channels, it is essential to demonstrate agility and rely on a reliable system to guarantee customer satisfaction.

Read also : Digitization: what influence on trades in materials trading

Digitization makes it possible to meet this challenge, by focusing on the formalization of processes and automation within the material parks. The integration of a management tool optimizes flows and provides overall visibility on purchases, orders, shipments and deliveries. The interconnection between the different sales channels also makes it possible to guarantee the right stock, always available in the right place and at the right time for your customers. To go further, some software also relies on predictive techniques to have order recommendations suppliers. The data collected by the ERP is weighted by the human hand which is able to make the right arbitrations and optimize the restocking.

4. Manage your data feeds

The digitization of transactions and customer relations, the increasing complexity of product and service offers and the transformation of logistics activities generate a significant volume of data for the materials trade. In BtoB, the buying journey is constantly aggregating and creating information across the entire chain and for all services. Several buyers for the same business customer account, various types of payment (down payment, deferred payment, staggering, etc.), tax-free invoicing, consideration of decreasing rates, technical information with visual aids, customer profiles according to business, sector of activity, of the family of products purchased… All of this data must be processed, classified and shared throughout the company, from the storekeeper in the branch to the accountant, from the salesperson to the team manager.

It should also not be forgotten that the trend is towards the dematerialization of all documents. supplier purchase orders, dematerialization of invoices and receipts, digitization of exchanges… The digitization of the point of sale also means the proper management of data flows for a unified experience. For this, it is important to centralize the information in order to value it as real business capital. By facilitating access to customer data, you give your sales force all the keys, for example, to maximizing your turnover by meeting customer expectations.

The digitization of the point of sale is giving rise to new professions and new responsibilities for employees. Training is more important than ever to deal with the consequences on the organization of materials trading. This also involves making the right choices in terms of management tools and relying on easy-to-use, ergonomic solutions that are able to be fully integrated into the daily lives of teams.

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