With the rise of web browsers on mobile devices and social media like Twitter and Facebook, Ridgefield Supply Co. has dismissed its old website for one that makes it easier to get round-the-clock access to the dealer.
The new site's goal is to provide as much information as possible while making information easier to find. The site, www.ridgefieldsupply.com, has also been made more interactive for Ridgefield customers, be it a contractor or a Manhattan commuter looking to remodel his house. In this part of the country, the pace is quick and the demands are never-ending.
"Our site was in need of updating," says Sean Sims, who handles marketing, sales, and a multitude of other duties at Ridgefield. Sims is no stranger to the field; he formerly worked in the marketing department of Lumbermens Merchandising Corp.
"I really wanted to modernize our website and I had a bunch of concepts for how I wanted to do that," says Sims. Launched on Feb. 16, Ridgefield updates portions of its site on a weekly and sometimes daily basis, including contractor events and two blogs.
Upon entering the site, a visitor is met by a slide show highlighting key sections on the site, such as green building, decks and decking, and mouldings.
From the green building page, the user can access Ridgefield's green products, green building techniques, and information about the green building movement. Margaret Price Sims, vice president at Ridgefield and the fifth generation of her family to work in the LBM industry (she's Sean's wife, too) believes keeping green in the eyes of her customers and staff is a key to success in today's market.
Everybody in the Pool. Although 85% of Ridgefield's sales are directly to pros, the dealer still has a following among homeowners. "Really what I am trying to do with this site is make it accessible for both the homeowner and the contractor," Sean says. "I try to keep it all out there and keep both types of customers in the pool."
2009 Excellence Award Winners
"We are in a do-it-for-me market," Margaret says, referring to the demographic Ridgefield Supply serves: a higher-end clientele that stretches throughout Fairfield County, Conn., and into parts of New York State.
The doors hardly ever close at Ridgefield. Two years ago, the dealer won an Honorable Mention in the Excellence Awards for setting up 24-hour access to its showroom.
Pushing the attempt to communicate with a large pool of customers even further, each page of the site also features links to Ridgefield Supply's Facebook and Twitter pages. (The Twitter link is http://twitter.com/ridgefieldsply.)
"It's evolving and there is a large use for it," says Sean of the Twitter feed. He notes there's a growing network of suppliers, contractors, and homeowners who are riding the Twittering wave, sharing information and trends. Five employees at Ridgefield, including Sean, can post to Ridgefield's Twitter page.
A 52-inch flat screen television, hanging directly behind Ridgefield Supply's main contractor desk, reinforces the dealer's tech presence. An ongoing PowerPoint and video presentation reminds customers to check out the dealer's website and link to Ridgefield's Twitter and Facebook pages.
"It's all interconnected," Sean says. "The site reflects excellence in a way that it steps out and acknowledges the possibility of technology and progress not presently applied in our industry."
Ridgefield also added two blogs to its site: a general blog for discussing industry topics and a green blog
According to Sean, since the site was re-launched it has "enjoyed increased traffic across the board." More specifically, it has witnessed a 20% increase in traffic most days and even larger spikes with the release of Ridgefield's electronic newsletter. The newsletter itself can be subscribed to using a link on any of the site's pages.
Tired of scrolling through page after page and link after link, trying to find out how to contact a dealer? Ridgefield has its store hours, telephone number, and a toll-free number displayed on the top of every page.
Easy Access. Sean says the company wanted its clientele to have the ability to interact with the company through various "easy-to-access" communication outlets such as traditional e-mail or voice communication.
Drop-down links at the top of pages, once accessed, reveal some of Ridgefield's history through photographs, including shots of the company's original storefront, employees unloading railcars with forklifts, town parades passing by the store, and current employees. There also is a timeline of the company, which dates back to 1883.
Excellence Awards judges were impressed by the site's "Great Deals" page, which shows windows, doors, moulding, and other products that had been marked down. The page also contains contact information for the salesperson that handles the category, including that person's company e-mail address and direct number.
Another standout feature to ProSales judges was the ability for users to download Ridgefield's entire 48-page moulding catalog in CAD or PDF format. Contractors who might not want to deal with the entire catalog can also download portions of it based on separate categories, such as solid crown moulding or wainscoting. Of course, a traditional paper catalog can be picked up at the counter as well.
The downloadable catalog stands out in the mind of David Luyendyk, too. Luyendyk owns Yellow House Graphic Design, a Raleigh, N.C.-based firm that builds websites. Since helping design Ridgefield's site, Yellow House has created a new site for Kuiken Brothers Co., the nine-unit dealer based in Midland, N.J.
"I can speak the language," Luyendyk says of LBM dealers. He started working at a Kuiken location during summers when he was 15 and continued through college. Even after obtaining an advertising job, Luyendyk worked Saturdays for Kuiken.
"It was a great experience and I got to know the industry," he says. It also helped Sean when he worked on revamping Ridgefield's site.
"We've broken out of the typical lumberyard website look and are embracing new technology," Sean says.