Supply Experts Respond to Demand for Electrical Wholesale E-commerce Marketplace

04/19/2017
by Elber Gamboa

Research has shown that electrical wholesale consumers are underserved when it comes to online purchasing options.

In an audit of the top 200 electrical wholesale websites, research organization Hybris found that nearly half of the sites didn’t have e-commerce options for customers.

Executive vice president of sales in the Americas for Hybris, Steven Kramer, told Meet The Boss that with the large volume of transactions offering e-commerce to customers should be a “no-brainer” for those in the industry.

Kramer explained that the online retail experience has been influencing what B2B customers want from their wholesalers.

“Their experience on the web is very much a retail experience and they would like to replicate that experience in dealing with their wholesale venders.”

In fact, statistics show that 57 per cent of the work is done by the customer before they contact the sales department, which means that e-commerce websites need to be providing quality customer experience.

Half of B2B buyers surveyed stated they enjoyed website features that personalize the experience.

Kramer said that it was not only advantageous to provide an easier way for customers to place an order online but also to provide a self-service environment.

“Where a contractor or electrician or small organization is able to not have to call the order desk to find the status of their order.”

Many of the websites audited by Hybris lacked good product information, including the ability to enlarge the main product image. They suggested having high-resolution images, full tech specs, PDF versions of manuals for the items and product reviews.

“One of the best ways to provide detailed product information is to allow customers to submit their own reviews. They often highlight specific features that brands don’t even realize are important to customers,” Kramer was quoted as saying in a press release.

“In the B2B world, reviews demonstrate that a wholesaler is partnering with their customers by offering the best and most useful advice for choosing the right product.”

This is something that Supply Expert has taken seriously. The only company in Canada that provides an online marketplace for electrical wholesalers, the company has made an effort to enhance the e-commerce experience for both the supplier and the customer.

There are high-resolution images in a variety of categories to make searching easy, including wire & cable, lighting, heating & ventilation among others.

SupplyExpert.ca has been responding to what customers indicate they want and need in an e-commerce website. It is a wholesale experience similar to what other retail online businesses offer.

With the opportunity to be a vender yourself, SupplyExpert.ca allows you to reach out and offer customers the best possible e-commerce experience. There are three types of plans available depending on your needs.

Until now the e-commerce market has been segmented, Kramer explained during an interview on Meet The Boss.

“There is one segment that will start to adopt B2B, mostly because of competitive reasons. Companies within a segment will start to look at B2B e-commerce systems in order to be more competitive with their small or larger competitors.”

With Supply Expert the hard work is done for you. All electrical wholesalers need to do is upload their product information to the website. SupplyExpert.ca has created the type of platform that consumers in the industry have been asking for.

The study by Hybris also found that only 48 per cent of the websites allowed customers to search products by filters like size or price, although 98 per cent offered a search feature using the product code. Of those that offered an advanced search feature, only six per cent had an auto-complete function and just 15 per cent were able to return results for misspelled words.

“B2B websites should cater to consumers by allowing them to search by application, product names, codes, keywords or the ability to look up the details of prior orders,” Kramer was quoted as saying in the press release. “A website’s search function should also recognize frequently misspelled words and offer auto-complete capabilities that consumers have come to rely on in traditional search engines.

“From shipping to product details, our research found that there is a large disparity between what buyers want in an e-commerce platform and the current state of electrical wholesaling websites. By investing in an optimized e-commerce channel, wholesalers can equip their organizations with the tools they need to meet their customers’ e-commerce expectations.”

During the interview with Meet The Boss, Kramer said that electrical wholesale companies need to also think beyond the website experience for customers. He pointed out that something that has been overlooked by many companies is the power of the web as a marketing tool.

“When you think about the complexity of their product, when you think about the brand and the amount of money that they are potentially putting into trade shows or the reps that are in the field, they are able to replicate that experience and promote their brand online,” he explained. “And also work with their part manufacturers, if they are in the wholesale business, to do joint offerings, to do promotions.”

Kramer said it was about raising the bar and thinking about the opportunities out there online, including mobile.

He explained that mobile sales have been growing at a tremendous rate, citing that Grainger’s mobile transactions were at 20 per cent in 2013, which was up from three or four per cent a few years earlier.

“I think that organizations really need to take this into consideration when they are looking at platforms and they are developing their strategy.”

Kramer also said that Hybris has seen smaller companies grow by employing strategic e-commerce techniques.

“We have seen many smaller organizations that have been able to grow significantly by making themselves look like a bigger organization on the web and not having to invest in a very large sales force in order to penetrate new regions.”

That is something that SupplyExpert.ca has been designed to offer those in the electrical wholesale industry.