With a sharp decline in sales of building products, manufacturers need to take a digital-first approach as the industry begins to recover from the current crisis. This is according to specification-led marketing and data specialists SpecifiedBy’s Founder and CEO Darren Lester, who is urging manufacturers to use this time of uncertainty to rethink the way they market and sell to architects and specifiers.
Building product manufacturers have been some of the hardest hit as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Construction Products Association, 81% of heavy side firms and 68% of light side firms have seen construction product sales decline in the second quarter, compared with the previous, making it the weakest balances in almost 12 years.
“Many companies have been forced to quickly adapt to the recent restrictions we’re all now working to, and manufacturers are no exception,” says Darren Lester, Founder and CEO of SpecifiedBy. “Sadly, though, some have been slow to adopt digital transformation which, quite frankly, will make or break their business if they choose to stand still.
“Even before COVID-19, trade shows, travelling salesmen and printed catalogues have been experiencing a steady demise as outdated modes of marketing and sales. Now, architects and specifiers are more inclined to a simple search online for the products and fittings they need rather than engage directly with the manufacturers. It means those manufacturers that fail to digitise their vast catalogues of products will be missing out on business and limiting their potential for short and long term growth.”
Reassuringly, the Construction Products Association reveals over half (53%) of heavy side firms and 50% of light side firms anticipate an increased investment in e-business over the next year. What this will look like for each manufacturer remains unclear but many are already embracing online platforms like SpecifiedBy, in which they can market building products to, and engage with, tens of thousands of architects and specifiers.
What’s more, some digital-savvy building manufacturers are delivering online learning courses to share their expertise with architects and specifiers. Data from SpecifiedBy shows that building product manufacturers have converted over 400 of their courses to online content since lockdown begun – and the number keeps growing.
This has led to SpecifiedBy receiving interest from architects and specifiers to use any downtime to sharpen their skills and broaden their knowledge while working from home. It’s led to around 1,000 sign-ups to webinars and on-demand sessions every week.
Darren concludes: “There’s clearly an appetite for architects and specifiers to learn and work online, so manufacturers must act now and match this demand by investing in both digital and e-commerce platforms. Otherwise, they risk being left behind.”