Plumbing distribution industry: Stand out from your competition

We believe enhancing and improving customer service is the key driver for success in the plumbing industry. Find out more here.
June 17, 2019
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5-min read

Stand out from the competition in the plumbing & heating distribution industry

Standing out from the competition is high on every distributor and wholesaler's agenda, regardless of their industry, but we believe enhancing and improving customer service is the key driver for success in the plumbing industry.

In the last few years, customers' expectations and demands have changed which is why it's more important than ever to focus on customer service for the ultimate USP.

We've put together 5 key factors for great customer service to help you improve your customer retention, brand reputation and ultimately sales revenue.

Trade counter service is paramount

Many wholesalers in the plumbing industry will make a lot of their sales through their trade counter which is why your brand needs to shine at your store. Knowledgeable staff, products in stock and a presentable store front is key to success, but the operations behind the scenes is what can give you the competitive edge.

Your business and stock management system that supports all the operations in your business can help you to enhance your customer service. Gone are the days of paper orders, disorganised stock and a basic customer experience. A sophisticated ERP system will allow you to raise quotes, book orders and re-order stock for a quick and efficient customer experience.

If your customer is new, simply add them to the system so you can continue to market and communicate with them, showcasing special offers or up-sell opportunities. Or if your customer is a regular, you can have full visibility of their account so you can know all about their business, see past orders and view sales-leakage right on the spot. Saving you time, boosting sales and enhancing customer service.

Customers are demanding a multi-channel shopping experience

Customers in 2019 want to be able to do their research online before committing to a purchase. They'll collect quotes, read reviews, compare product offerings and check prices before committing to an order. If they can't find you online, you may miss your chance to make your sale.

A branded eCommerce store can help you build on online presence, build up online reviews and enable you to offer your customer another way to shop. Similarly, selling a selection of products on eBay or Amazon can help you market to those who are avid marketplace shoppers. Positioning your brand alongside your competitors helps to avoid missing out on a sale.

Plus, when your ERP software allows you to manage your online order just like any other order in your warehouse, it makes multi-channel selling easy and efficient.

Cross-sell and up-sell opportunities need to be smarter

Not only do your cross-sell and up-sell opportunities need to be across all your shopping channels (you can add a related product feature on our eShop eCommerce websites) but they need to be smarter to help you make the sale.

Within the order module of prof.ITplus you can offer your customers related products and specifically products that are on offer, you can identify what your regular customers are no longer buying from you and offer them tailored discounts or offers based on minimum profit margins and you can also set automatic reminders to offer related products that are regularly bought together that the customer may have forgotten to purchase.

These personalised sales opportunities will inevitably increase order values, but it will also make the customer feel valued because of the personalised experience they've had in store.

Differentiate yourself on more than just price

Competing on price isn't always possible, especially next to the retail giants Amazon, when you're selling online. But you can always stand out on knowledge. Offering your customers a trustworthy and knowledgeable experience can ensure they return.

If customers feel they're in safe hands, they are likely to turn to your company as a trusted advisor and not just another stockist for the cheapest product. Ensure your sales staff are clued up on the latest products and the best practices and trends in the industry.

You can offer this service online too with downloadable attachments, videos and images to ensure your customers have all the information they need. You can also post blogs and case studies to show your knowledge in the industry and they'll want to return for the latest news and content.

Technology allows you to be flexible and proactive

Your business's behind the scenes operations has a direct effect on the service you can provide. Even if your sales staff are trained, polite and knowledgeable, your prices are competitive, your website is user-friendly and you promise the world, if you can't deliver, you'll lose customers quicker than you can ask why.

Your delivery times, order fulfilment, stock accuracy and stock levels all have a direct effect on the service you deliver. And it doesn't stop there - your finance department, marketing communications and customer pricing also impact your service. This is why an integrated ERP system, that links all aspects of the business, will enable you to deliver a seamless and efficient service day in, day out.

From purchasing of stock, to dispatching of orders, invoicing accounts to personalised marketing, your service is smooth and customer friendly.

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