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Fast stats help Middle Tennessee Lumber build sales

July 29, 2016 10:00 AM
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Jesse Joyce, a vice president at lumber manufacturer Middle Tennessee Lumber, found himself overwhelmed with information when he first started selling on BuildDirect Technologies Inc.’s online marketplace in 2014.

“We were getting these spreadsheets and all this data, but it was cumbersome,” he says. “I would glance at it on a monthly basis instead of looking at it constantly.”

That changed when BuildDirect, No. 182 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500 Guide, launched its BuildDirect Home Marketplace in February. Joyce says the seller portal on the Home Marketplace provided Middle Tennessee Lumber with a “heat map” that organized page views by areas of the country so he and his team could see what popular products by geographic areas as consumers were navigating Middle Tennessee Lumber’s hub on BuildDirect.

“Those tools really changed how we predicted what types of products we were going to sell,” he says.  “Previously I was getting all the data but it wasn’t [formatted in a way] where I could filter it very easily. I had to take all that data, do all the work, make my own tables where I could analyze it better.” The new seller portal and updated marketplace are user-friendly and let him drill down to specific SKUs to see what customers are interested in and where they’re located, Joyce says.

For instance, he noticed shoppers from the West Coast were frequently looking at hickory wood products but not buying them, in part because they weren’t as familiar with the wood—hickory trees are most commonly found east of the Mississippi River—as they were other types of lumber. By tweaking features such as product descriptions and pricing, he was able to significantly increase his hickory sales on the West Coast.

Data from the new Home Marketplace has helped more than Middle Tennessee Lumber’s sales on the West Coast, however. Through the first three months that the marketplace was live, Joyce says cart size grew 20-25%.Consumers also are looking at more items, he says, and knowing how often products are being viewed helps the company get a better idea of items that will likely be in demand in coming months.

The BuildDirect Home Marketplace aims to help merchants determine trends and customer preferences based on data and test new products or ideas, says Joe Thompson, vice president of marketing at BuildDirect.

“[Merchants] look into the data available, [see] which customers are choosing their product, whether they’re putting it in the cart or saving it for later,” Thompson says. Seeing such shopping activity leads to better decisions about where inventory should be for timely and efficient delivery. “Is it as close to the customer as it could be? That will reduce the time that it takes to get there and the cost.”

 

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