Crystal Direct comment: Q2 2017

Steve Halford, Group Managing Director Crystal Direct is BMBI’s Expert for PVC-U Windows & Doors

Quarter-on-quarter enquiries are down for the first time in three years but this could be due to more builders’ merchants pricing online. Compared with Quarter 2 2016, the market for bespoke PVC-U windows and doors remains ahead. Sales are up quarter-on-quarter and year-on-year by 9% and 45% respectively.
Conversion rates continue to improve too as more merchants recognise the benefits of selling bespoke windows. It’s a valuable £5 billion a year market and merchants have taken to it in a big way.

The challenge for merchants is changing the way they sell. As consumers, most builders, installers and private developers go online to look at what’s available and increasingly order online. Slick retailers like Amazon and others have made it so easy, quick and convenient that we now expect it all the time, in business and personal life. And once you get used to it, it’s frustrating to step back in time to a slower, less convenient way of doing things.

Merchants who sell PVC-U windows with showrooms and online configurators sell much more, and more easily than those who don’t. They’ve seen the potential, and are changing how they sell. Showrooms make it easier for merchants to engage with their builder and contractor customers. They’re especially effective with high value home improvement products such as kitchens and bathrooms, and create more engaging customer experiences for quality PVC-U windows and doors too.

It’s important that merchants and suppliers continue working together to deliver an Omnichannel approach to marketing high-ticket home improvement products. Smart customers go online first, to find helpful, relevant content and their perceived product solution. But then, ready to buy, merchants need to follow through at branch level with knowledgeable staff and strong representation of the product, backed by reliable, on-time deliveries.

Bespoke PVC-U windows and doors have opened up a big, new market for merchants. But unless merchants put more resource and effort into developing seamless Omnichannel marketing that combines online with showrooms and in-branch initiatives, many merchant markets will be vulnerable to new external threats. Combining the best attributes of both people and technology, in both ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ environments is the way forward.

See the full Q2 Report here: https://www.bmbi.co.uk/the-index/ 

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Launched in 2015, the award winning monthly Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) report is the only reliable measure of repair, maintenance & improvement (RMI) activity in the UK. Filling an important gap, it can be widely used in construction, and by economists, Government, national media, commentators and influencers outside the industry.

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