Kevin Tolson, Commercial Director Wienerberger UK is MBI’s Expert for Bricks & Roof Tiles.
After a couple of interesting years across the industry we’re seeing the merchant focus shifting slightly, with interests in factors such as specification, customer service and sustainability increasing within the sector.
Due to events in recent years, products such as cladding and facades are now in the spotlight, prompting a change in the specification process. Because of this, now more than ever, merchants are educating themselves further on all aspects of products to allow them to recommend the right materials for the job. In addition, there is a much broader range of information available to merchants following changes to specifications, which have allowed for an improved merchant-customer relationship.
Customer service has always been naturally important in the merchant sector, especially as the market is so competitive. It’s no secret that the construction sector is behind the times when it comes to the digital movement, but there is a distinct increase in online merchants who conduct all of their services digitally. While this has its own implications, there’s no denying that the level of convenience is very attractive to the market. With this new competition in play, it’s vital for all merchants to really invest in their customer service to stand out in the market, building on existing relationships and forging new ones along the way.
Finally, sustainability is an area of consideration that has become important across most industries over the past year or so. The construction sector, in particular, has been put under the microscope for its efforts to reduce any negative impacts on the environment and make the entire build process as green as possible. We expect queries around the sustainable credentials of products, packaging and distribution will become more commonplace as merchants begin to actively push more sustainable offerings to meet the demand.