ECI Software Solutions Comment: Q3 2023

The 2023 edition of the LBM 100 survey by LBM Journal, demonstrated an impressive escalation in a conventionally conservative industry. 2022 marked a significant milestone, with 40% of merchants embracing online sales compared to just over 30% the year prior – that’s a jump of almost 10% in just one year. Furthermore, 27.4% of these online transactions were for in-branch  pickups, in a growing marriage between digital convenience and brick and mortar interactions.

Simultaneously, technology implementation is becoming commonplace in other areas. The 2023 Construction Supply 150 report by Webb Analytics underlined that despite these industries setting aside just 1% of revenue for technological advancements, their adaptation is evident. Over two-thirds of CS150 merchants currently offer clients online access to their purchasing history and bills, with an additional quarter intending to onboard this feature. Over half already offer online bill payments, with 30% more planning to roll that out.

Volatile supply chains and inconsistent pricing (familiar to those in the building sector) continue to impede swift ecommerce adaptation. But technology is fulfilling its promise, improving the speed, experience and efficiency in customer service that frees valuable time to focus on external challenges, an increased sophistication in customer categorising, and the promise of growth in ecommerce and sales. Next are real-time delivery notifications and live visibility of price, stock and delivery options. These features foster transparency and predictability; values crucial to trades who depend on merchants completely.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is also shaping the future as an ally to merchants. AI demonstrates potential for understanding customer history, pricing algorithms, and even predicting external disturbances (like strikes or forest fires) that impact pricing trends. AI is poised to play an even greater role in customer-facing interactions, promoting superior customer experiences and bolstering business efficacy. Utilising  AI for such interactions allows businesses to capitalise on vast amounts of data to provide personalised  customer experiences. AI systems can perform real-time analyses of customer behaviour and patterns, facilitating a nuanced and proactive approach to meeting customer needs. Embracing ecommerce and evolving technologies looks set to be a transformative move that will not only boom in business but also cater to evolving customer expectations.

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