The social and economic environment that we are living in is changing at an unprecedented rate and whilst building and construction is often considered as a traditional and conservative industry, which changes very slowly, we cannot expect it to remain immune from these changes.
The natural customer base of the Builders Merchant is also changing and expanding, with smaller builders and enthusiastic DIYers now seeing the Merchant as the destination of choice for purchasing materials. The customer sales experience will need to adapt to this and perhaps become more glitzy and glamorous and informative, but hopefully avoiding the ubiquitous ‘Coffee Shop’.
The smartphone is rapidly becoming the builder’s best friend (certainly in my local on a wet afternoon, where builders congregate to moan about the weather). Extensive information about products and prices, and of course not forgetting the weather forecast are readily available at the touch of the screen. Some helpful suppliers even have apps that guide you step by step through the process of completing certain small building jobs. What more could you want?
Well, in the same way as most of us use the phone to take everyday photographs, rather than use a camera, the modern builder can use his phone in place of more traditional tools. There is already an app that can convert the phone into a spirit level. Calculating quantities is now readily undertaken using the phone, and apps are available to help in setting out.
So, are the days of the builder arriving at the Merchant’s in his van or pick up to collect a dozen bags of cement, well and truly over? Probably not, but ‘click and collect’ ordered from the smartphone directly from site (as the awful realisation dawns that there isn’t enough material left to finish the job), may soon become the norm rather than the exception.
All we can be sure about is that nothing stands still for long, whilst is not realistic that the phone will actually lay mortar or pour concrete, it will become a means of making the whole process more efficient.