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Ask electrical contractors if they'd like the option of being able to check stock, review product specifications, and place orders online – without having to pick up the phone or send an email – and the answer is usually "yes." Ask the same group if any of their electrical distributors offer this type of business-to-business (B2B) online functionality, and the answer is usually "no." That's because unless you're talking about a huge, multi-location conglomerate, for the most part the electrical distribution industry has yet to fully embrace the web as a selling platform.
"We're still using a lot of phone and email to go back and forth with our distributors when placing orders," says Jared Kredit, executive vice president at K2 Electric, Inc., in Phoenix. Given the option, Kredit says his firm would take advantage of the opportunity to not only buy online, but also to review product information and specs and get pricing. "In most cases, I just use Google to do my research," Kredit adds. "Other than Platt Electric Supply – which isn't in our area – no one else has an online marketplace where you can see product availability and pricing."
To fully grasp the growing power of B2B online commerce, one need only look at how its predecessor and larger cousin – the business-to-consumer or B2C marketplace – has blossomed over the last two years. On Cyber Monday alone, more than $3.09bn was spent online, according to e-commerce platform provider 3dcart. This marks a 16 percent increase from 2014, with the final reported figure surpassing experts' forecasted number by 3.2 percent. The numbers are based on activity from the 12,200 U.S. online stores and the more than 17,000 merchants that use 3dcart's platform.
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