020 RCI 0417

RCI April 2017

SUPPLY ROUTES: OPINION It has been a turbulent year for the construction industry, with political change and ambitious housing targets creating an uncertain future for both manufacturers and building firms alike. With Britain’s vote to leave the EU resulting in a weakened pound and threats of rising import costs, one of the sectors which faces the most change is that of the construction industry. Despite this, 48% of construction professionals remain optimistic about new business opportunities in 2017. However, with the closure of some traditional builders’ merchant branches in the UK preventing many construction firms from being able to source materials locally, as well as the Government’s ambitious target to build one million new homes by 2020, as we have seen, the demand for materials is at an all-time high, posing a risk of future shortages. So how are construction firms preparing, adapting and protecting their businesses? It can be said that with change comes opportunity, and in the face of political, economic and technological developments, I feel firms are starting to change the way they specify and procure materials; taking advantage of the channels available to them and becoming more efficient, collaborative and resilient in the process. Working smarter Any shortage of materials is never good for business – it has an impact on the entire build chain, from design and construction, to customer satisfaction. With pressures on costs, labour and the supply chain rising, taking a different approach to procuring materials can result in construction firms becoming more agile, with money and time being saved in the process. The construction industry is known for being fairly traditional when it comes to procurement processes, typically sourcing materials via tried and trusted methods. Whilst there is no doubt that builders’ merchants still have a role to play in the industry, there is now an increased need for more knowledge and expertise across a much wider 020 APRIL 2017 RCIMAG.COM range of building materials – a role now being filled by digital teams, who are increasingly working directly alongside specifiers and construction professionals on commercial build projects. I feel B2B eCommerce is radically transforming the construction industry, providing opportunities for significant cost savings and a more efficient workforce, helping to ease pressures on contractors and developers. Alongside evolving project management processes, eCommerce enables a more efficient, collaborative and stable means of material procurement – one which is responsive to industry change and demand. Digital channels are becoming an invaluable part of the supply chain, providing access to thousands of both global and home-grown suppliers and manufacturers. Despite the obvious advantages, including best price comparisons and consistent stock levels, purchasing materials online provides firms with far greater choice, from the obscure to the specialist, helping them to reduce their reliance on the high-street building merchant. With most major suppliers and manufacturers now bringing an eCommerce proposition to the market, building project processes are being managed more intelligently and productively. From architects, to specifiers, to contractors, eCommerce is a channel easily accessible to all those involved in a building project. Digital Demand Construction professionals want fair pricing and a varied product range, alongside the convenience associated with a retail experience. Innovative eCommerce businesses have helped to catapult the industry into the 21st century, and slowly but surely, the trend for sourcing building materials online is beginning to take hold. Now being viewed as trusted partners, dedicated digital teams can adapt quickly, advising on the materials best suited to the budget and schedule, ensuring specifications are exact and meet the needs of the project, while maintaining quality and full compliance. Unrestricted by a physical store, eCommerce teams have access to a global network of suppliers and manufacturers, meaning they can advise quickly on product alternatives and substitutes should a stock shortage threaten the timeline of a build. With the quality and variety of commercial building products continuing to advance at a rapid pace and in the face of changing building processes, eCommerce is a viable solution to improving productivity, whilst ensuring continued customer satisfaction and innovation. Made-to-order and bespoke products can also be sourced quickly, dramatically reducing onsite waste, whilst expert online support teams can advise how best a project can both meet and exceed Building Regulation requirements. Firms should consider sourcing materials via different channels to not only get the best deal, but to also understand the full range of solutions and technologies available to them. Time to adapt In my opinion B2B eCommerce is radically transforming the construction industry, providing opportunities for significant cost savings and a more efficient workforce. Digital is now a business asset, one already being used by project owners and customers. If applied in the same way to material procurement, construction firms can continue to meet and exceed customer demand, with access to a global catalogue of products. Like the economic landscape, materials are constantly evolving alongside construction methods, as such businesses and construction professionals need to embrace change and adapt if they are to realise the strategic benefits to be had – from weathering political storms to business growth. www.roofingsuperstore.co.uk The big materials shake-up Chris Graham of Roofing Superstore explains why he feels its time to transform the supply chain “Any shortage of materials is never good for business – having an impact on the entire build chain, from design and construction, to customer satisfaction” “Made-to-order and bespoke products can also be sourced quickly, dramatically reducing onsite waste, whilst expert online support teams can advise how best a project can both meet and exceed Building Regulation requirements” Chris Graham, Roofing Superstore: “Unrestricted by a physical store, eCommerce teams have access to a global network of suppliers and manufacturers, meaning they can advise quickly on product alternatives and substitutes, should a stock shortage threaten the timeline of a build”


RCI April 2017
To see the actual publication please follow the link above