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Do Distributor Websites Have What Customers Really Need?

By Scott Costa, Publisher, tED magazine

New research by NAED shines a brighter light than ever before on electrical distributors’ websites and how contractors use them.

The “2014 Electrical Contractors’ Technology Benchmarking Survey” was completed in the summer of 2014.  It looked at how contractors search for products and areas where contractors would like to see improvement in distributors’ websites.

More than half of the contractors who responded say they use a search engine like Google or Yahoo to find out information about electrical products. Only 10% use distributors’ websites.  “It comes up with what I need,” was a response from one of the contractors who took the survey. “If I am trying to get a quick ballpark price, the manufacturer or distributor website does not have that information.”

With so many contractors using search engines, it brings up an opportunity for distributors to enhance their Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for their website.  When a contractor searches for an electrical product using Google, it would be in a distributors’ best interest to be one of the top websites to come up for that search.

On a plus side, 91% of the respondents say they have visited a distributor’s website in the last month.  26% report visiting daily, 33% visit weekly, and 32% visit at least once a month.  Most of the visitors review general information, download product specification sheets, research products or look for pictures of specific products.

But, when asked about the top 5 things distributors can improve on their websites, contractors listed:

  • Get technical drawings;
  • Download application and installation guides;
  • Search an online catalog for products by description, product category brand name or part number;
  • Document shipping damage;
  • Schedule, track and verify receipt of shipments.

“Distributors have to be more innovative in the way in which they connect with their customers,” DataGility President Denise Keating told me. “The web is no longer just a tool that allows distributors to offer their customers a different way to place orders.  It is also a relationship-building tool.  Your website/mobile app is an alternate way to connect to your customers in a way in which they prefer to communicate with you. Amazon has learned to combine powerful easy to use systems, with robust content, and an interactive experience that not only engages the customer the first time but keeps them coming back. Again and Again.”

tED magazine will be looking deeper into this survey in the coming months.  Make sure you follow each month’s edition of tED magazine to get further analysis of the findings from this research project.

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