eCommonSense Comment: Q3 2021

Climate change is the biggest single threat facing the planet, and everyone needs to act if the predicted crisis is to be avoided. With COP26 having recently taken place along with a series of damning reports criticising attempts to reduce CO2 emissions, will 2022 be a year for change?

The Government is realising the detrimental impact of the built environment sector on the nation’s net-zero ambition. Construction has a crucial role to play in driving a more sustainable future but action needs to be taken before it’s too late.

At the recent BMF parliamentary reception, ‘Building a Sustainable Britain’, an event designed to showcase sustainability in the manufacturing and distribution of building materials and home improvement products, it was encouraging to speak to builders’ merchants and building materials manufacturers about the urgent actions that need to be taken.

Solving inefficiencies in the supply chain should be a significant focus, with the rise of eCommerce presenting new opportunities in efficiency. The entire industry needs to go through a digital transformation, part of which will involve connecting the websites, product databases and back-office systems of merchants, suppliers and, further downstream, construction companies.

This will enable rapid and accurate data exchange to allow customers to make informed buying decisions, and help improve inventory and delivery management, but it will also reduce waste from the number of part-full delivery trucks on the road.

Many merchants have invested limited amounts of money in digital transformation, as they are unsure if customers would favour online systems and they are sceptical of the benefits. However, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the digital revolution has gathered pace. Research shows that almost 50% of people now prefer to transact online with customers, suppliers and merchants, often preferring the more efficient and sustainable option.

Those that fail to invest and realise the potential of these digital solutions risk losing out to more agile competitors. They may also fall foul of future legislation as sustainability becomes an increasingly influential factor driving buying decisions.

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