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Installer purchases via online retailers are not growing as fast as expected

One out of three European installers already buys at pure online retailers. These purchases are just a marginal part of their total expenditures, however. Necessity and attractive pricing are the main motivations to buy through this channel, while the preference for direct contact is an essential barrier. In the latest edition of the European Electrical Installation Monitor, which will be available soon, USP Marketing Consultancy provides full insights in the usage of, and attitude of electrical installers towards, different purchase channels. The research, covering 7 European countries (Germany, France, UK, Spain, Poland, The Netherlands and Belgium), is based on 952 telephone interviews with electrical installers.

Small purchases to test pure online retailers and buy niche products

Nowadays, the number of electrical installers buying at pure online shops (without physical stores) has increased with 10% at European level compared to 2016. Especially in Germany and in the United Kingdom, more professionals became familiar with this channel.

On the other hand, the share of wallet has remained at the same level over the past two years. These purchases add up to a relatively small proportion of the total amount spend on installation products.

We can conclude that although more and more installers buy via pure online players, this happens rather occasionally. On the one hand it seems that installers are cautiously testing this distribution channel. On the other hand two main reasons can be identified, which are outlined below.

Installers buying pure online out of necessity and attractive pricing

Pure online customers report that certain products cannot be found anywhere else, and they like the wide product range offered buy pure online retailers. Furthermore, attractive pricing and discounts also motivate them to choose this channel.

Lack of personal contact is an important disadvantage

In most countries, the lack of personal contact is the most important reason why installers do not buy at pure online shops.  An easily approachable customer service, providing technical advice and detailed product information, is strongly needed to convince these professionals to start using these suppliers.

Changes in distribution structure take time

We might have the feeling that buying via pure online channels is already booming business, and that online channels are the most important purchase channel for the future. This research clearly shows that the transition goes slower than expected, especially in the B2B environment, where buying processes are more complicated than in B2C. For installation companies, traditional channels still offer added values, making it difficult to compete with them as a pure online player. Long lasting relationships, built up over years, do not disappear overnight.