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Automation to E-sourcing

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Internet and mobile apps, so deeply ingrained in our daily functions, are not only enabling home owners to take control of their home lights, media, climate and security but are also helping them to source building and home improvement products online. Buildotech takes a look at the e-commerce in this segment – currently a nascent business but growing at a faster rate compared to other categories.

Building and home improvement products as a category encompasses building materials (civil products), wood and laminates, hardware, sanitary-ware and bathroom fittings, electrical and lighting, flooring, etc. Furniture and decor are typically considered as different category.

Globally, the building and home improvement products space has very large, multi-billion dollar corporations such as Home Depot (USA) and B&Q (UK). There are also highly successful online-only players such as Build.com, Builddirect.com and recently Houzz. com. These companies demonstrate that an organized, large-scale player in building segment can create massive value. It is about getting everything together, offering a wide product selection to the customer, creating economies of scale and selling the products through multiple channels.

In India, online shopping for building and home improvement products is still emerging as this massive $50 billion+ industry is completely fragmented and unorganized with not a single, large-scale player having a national presence. A customer will get the same product in three stores at three different prices. Margins are typically thin, and products are technical. There is poor after-sales support and high unprofessionalism in the industry. Hence, when the supply side is complicated, getting sellers online and exploiting demand becomes a challenge. Centralmart.in is one of the first movers to tap the unorganized industry and sell building and home improvement products online.” says Rishit Dalal, Co- Founder & CEO, Centralmart.in.

A new way to purchase capital equipment is the online marketplace Getmymachine.com. This online B2B marketplace is dedicated to providing end-to-end equipment solutions for machine tools, material handling equipment, earth moving equipment, and plastic machinery. Sanjay Deokule, Founder & Director of the portal says, “Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) have a strong demand for imported and indigenous machines but have a limited access to quality machines owing to pricing, remote location, training, installation and support constraints.”

Indeed, E-procurement is an important tool used by businesses to achieve and sustain their strategic objectives such as improving the buyer and seller relationship and advantages like reduced administration costs, enhanced inventory management and optimized decision making. “It adds significant advantages from reducing purchasing process costs, reducing purchasing time and developing better communication amongst key-partners.” concurs Vishal Singhal, Co-Founder, Artzolo.com, the online marketplace for affordable authentic art.

Some of the Players

In such times where, consumers expect prompt and smooth services, major vendors in the building industry too have realized the need for flawless delivery processes and value added services. E-commerce companies employ a host of digital marketing tools to promote their business online. This includes search engine optimization, search engine marketing, social media, affiliate marketing, referral marketing, video marketing, email and SMS marketing, blog and content writing, etc. The tools are used to direct traffic to the website and push conversions.

Asian Paints has associated with Mobicule Technologies to automate its home solutions service. For this, Mobicule has developed apps such as Pitch Book and Colour Consultancy that serve to streamline the service delivery, internal operations management and efficiency. The Pitch Book app equips the sales person of Asian Paints with all the details they need to know to engage with the customers, offer them a number of service options – complete list of solutions available, painting process, advantages of certain services over other services, latest colours, trends and themes. In addition, when a customer plans to renovate his house, the colour consultancy service helps them visualize which themes or textures to be used. The company agent visits the customer’s house, click images of the site for the colour consultant’s reference and upload it to the database via the app. The colour consultant then visits the customer and advises the consumer as per the specific needs.

Likewise, Getmymachine.com brings capital equipment buyers & vendors on the same platform to conduct business across cities and countries. It allows buyers to post requirements and get highly accurate, matching results of all available capital equipment as per their exact specifications/priorities and then allows them to choose from a list of vendors who are verified at frequent intervals to ensure genuine products are supplied. This helps the buyer to check and understand the technical capability and utility of the machine/ equipment and not just decide by the brand name and price. For Vendors, the online platform helps expand the market beyond traditional channels and offer knowledge of potential buyers and their needs across the country.

Centralmart.in, a one-stop-shop for home solutions sells everything from building materials, hardware, lighting and bathroom products and will soon be launching furniture, kitchens, furnishings and decor as well. It provides strong technical content and specialized domain knowledge and will soon offer professional installation services and solutions to make home improvement hassle-free. On the other hand, ArtZolo.com can be described as an online marketplace to discover and own, affordable authentic art. It allows emerging and established artists to exhibit, promote and sell their works directly to the art aficionados/lovers thus, making art more accessible and art market more transparent. It also sells a host of art reproductions and prints of highly-acclaimed works, objects d’art and artistic home decoration items.

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