Preston-based e-commerce platform provider EKM.com has formed a partnership with NMBS to help independent builders’, plumbers’, hardware and timber merchants throughout the UK to trade online.
EKM describes itself as being “the biggest UK-based e-commerce platform, with customer shops generating over half a billion pounds in sales per year”. NMBS first started working with the business to help members maximise the opportunity of selling Velux products online and benefit fully from its supplier discounts, which are available for having an omnichannel offering.
After seeing the benefits that online sales could open up for its members, NMBS has now partnered with EKM to give its merchants a much wider offering.
Andy Hextall, Commercial Director at NMBS, said: “We know that a lot of our members already have websites, but few of them have e-commerce sites, and yet this is a sales channel that’s rapidly becoming more important in today’s world.
“Although we started this journey initially to help our members access incremental online sales and the additional discounts available from Velux, we’ve now taken that a stage further and can offer all our members an easy way to start selling online – taking the fear out of what might seem like an incredibly daunting task for independent merchants.
“The EKM platform makes creating an online sales channel quick and easy for independent merchants – whether they already have an active website or not. Merchants without an existing website can use the platform to create home pages, choose a domain name, set up contact pages and all the standard features you would expect from a business website, as well as the online sales channel. Meanwhile, those companies who already have an online presence can simply reflect their site’s current branding on the sales channel and link it seamlessly to their existing domain name.”
Available as a ready-made platform, the system offers a wide range of features and price points depending on the merchant’s requirements. NMBS members can request a referral to EKM from the buying society, providing them with a 28-day free trial.
EKM claims to make it easy to set up a website because “there are none of the upfront costs associated with hiring a traditional web designer”. Websites are provided on monthly subscription packages that come in four tiers.
EKM Partner Manager Mark Gilbertson said: “One of the barriers to getting online for many independent merchants is the time it takes to gather the content for the site – namely, the pictures and descriptions for what could be thousands of separate product SKUs (Stock Keeping Units). But NMBS and EKM are working hard to support merchants with this as well. NMBS worked closely with VELUX to create a database of all its core products in a standardised format that could be quickly and easily imported into the platform using the inventory manager, and the buying society is now looking to review how they can expand this to other NMBS suppliers.”
The system accepts payments from a wide range of internationally recognised platforms including SagePay, WorldPay, Stripe and Paypal, as well as making debit and credit card payments possible.
First launched in April, 60 NMBS members are already using the EKM platform, with many more getting started each week. One merchant using the platform is Keith Builders’ Merchants, which has two branches based in Scotland. The merchant’s online shop – www.keithbuilders.co.uk – is already selling Velux products, and it is hoping to expand the site with other suppliers’ products soon.