Don't Ignore the Internet Sales Boom
Stephen Ondich, general manager at Commercial Forest Products in Fontana, Calif., wrote to us regarding "Virtual Shock," our story in the July/August ProSales on Internet sales of building materials:
I'm consistently amazed at the type of products being marketed online. Any company who believes they have carved out a bulletproof niche by virtue of their reputation, history, or location should take note. Being the only yard in town doesn't cut it anymore. The Internet has allowed out of town competitors to find your customers and vice-versa.
Having stores nearby did not help Borders Books. They were destroyed by Amazon.com, a company whose buildings, trucks, and employees I've never encountered in my life. Amazon isn't just for books anymore!
Greg Eiffert, president of Boone County Millwork, Columbia, Mo., commented on "Pocketsful of Change," the Editor's Notes column in the July/August edition.
We are on the front end of looking at our business from a new perspective. The idea of just selling sticks and sheets today IS a "virtual impossibility," as you say. We are about 13 months into our e-commerce website and it will continue to become an important part of our future shape. Not sure if you have done anything on the generation gap, but it has increasingly been on my mind and fits well into what is happening in regards to "customers." Look how the contractor space in your store around a coffee pot has changed to space on the web (social media). I do still have customers that have never purchased anything on a computer but they are now the minority.
We watched the "WalMart" way move into our industry. My young builder customers have never known life without that! It SHOULD impact how we do business. We have many opportunities to explore.