Joshua Watkins, from fire-rated door hardware company Spärka, discusses how the responsibility to provide the right product for the job lies with all links of the supply chain.
When you’re a professional builder selecting a product for your next project, how do you know it’s the right one? The onus is on the individual to make sure they choose the products that are fit for purpose — good quality, up to standard and accredited. And not only does a tradesperson’s work have to meet building regulations, but it also has to uphold their professional reputation.
When customers enter your branch, they are typically met with a myriad of products to choose from. And as a builders’ merchant, you’re confronted with the same choices — how do you know which products you should stock? And once you’ve stocked the products, how do you educate your staff enough to talk confidently about, and help, builders/end users decide which products to buy?
The responsibility has to be a shared one, that we believe starts with the manufacturer providing the merchant and their customer with as much information as possible whether that is through well-designed, simple and informative product packaging or through product training or digital assets.
For instance, our research has shown that a lot of building products come in plain white boxes with very little description to show what is actually in the box, let alone if it is fit for the job intended. In order to see what’s inside, builders have to open the packaging, quite often leaving contents scattered and unsellable product on the shelves (and the floor!).
Consequently, we think it’s really important to have clear information and imagery on the packaging. Simple, informative packaging means that it’s easier for builders to select the right product for the job and also means merchant staff don’t need to spend time gaining as much in-depth knowledge of the product. It’s easier for both sides.
Many more clicks
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought lots of changes to the way we do things, and one of them is the way builders buy their products. Lockdowns have meant click and collect has been relied upon by many as the way to get their goods. As a result, online has more and more become the default buying method.
It follows that being clear online is also crucial to enabling builders to select the right product for the job and strong digital assets are a must. This can be in the shape of an informative, written product description, including its applications and technical information. But increasingly, videos are being consumed online due to the ubiquitous use of smart devices and our ever-increasing time pressures and our need for multi-tasking.
Creating technical ‘how to’ videos gives builders easy to follow useful information on the go and also provides merchants with content that can be used to either train staff in store, or as part of a merchandise display to aid customers with their buying decision.
On top of that, research shows that approximately 85% of purchases start online where buyers do the mental leg work before heading to browse or pick up in store. During lockdown, companies like Kingfisher have reported 150%+ growth in their online sales, so whether it’s by necessity or choice, it’s clear that online buying is only going one way.
And as more trade moves online, it’s important that merchants have strong digital content — and that the online and offline experiences match up. It’s also why we’ve been looking at what we can provide to merchants for in store merchandising that cannot be done online to complement the full buying journey. One of the things we’re doing is providing door handles on stands that match the products on sale, giving further information on what’s inside the box. This means that customers can touch and feel our products without opening the packaging.
Embrace the new
We all have a responsibility to ensure the right products are used in the right way and the industry needs to embrace the changes that smart devices and the pandemic have brought about. That’s why we’re helping our customers understand our products as much as possible. Whether that’s with our clear packaging or our digital content that’s also available for their use, and that we’re adding to on a daily basis.
It’s important that we all embrace and keep up with the future way of trading and not simply keep doing it the way it has always been done.
A specialist supplier of certified fire door hardware, Spärka offers more than 150 SKUs in simple door packs which are said to offer “everything a builder needs in one simple, recyclable cardboard box or recyclable plastic bag”.
For more information on the company’s range of products and support services for merchants, go to: www.sparkauk.com