Contractor Website Use and Expectations

With over 70% of contractors and other professionals using the internet 2-3 time per week or more, it is critical that building product manufacturers and dealers understand how these contractor groups use websites.

Key questions were: How often do they research and purchase products online? Which sites do they visit to research and purchase products? What functions do they use and want on supplier’s websites?

To find answers to these questions and more, The Farnsworth Group surveyed over 400 pros about their media habits. The survey included general contractors, home builders, architects, specialty contractors, and kitchen and bath designers.

Frequency of Internet Use

When pros were asked how often they use the Internet to look for information on hardware, home improvement or building material products, 71% of pros said twice a week or more. 31% percent use it daily, while 40% use it 2 to 3 times per week. The remaining 29% research products online once a week or less, with only 4% of respondents at less often than once a month and 1% not using the Internet at all for product research.

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Preferred Websites for Product Research

Search engines are the most popular choice among pros when researching products online. 85% said indicated they research products using search engines. Manufacturer’s websites are second to search engines at 70% of pros, and home improvement websites are a close third at 66%. Popularity drops off steeply with consumer review websites, trade specific forums, and social networking or blog websites.

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Frequency of Internet Purchases

56% of those surveyed use the Internet to purchase hardware, home improvement or building materials at least once a week. The remaining 44% purchase online 2 to 3 times per month or less, with 10% not purchasing online at all.

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Websites Used for Purchases

Home improvement store websites and manufacturer websites are most popular for purchasing products.  Search engines are not far behind purchase products. Consumer review sites, social networking sites, and trade specific forums are far less popular.

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How Contractors Use Building Supply Dealers’ and Manufacturers’ Websites

78% are using building supply dealers and manufacturers’ websites to research product information. Looking up products carried by a supplier is the next most-popular use at 69%, and finding or comparing pricing is third most-popular at 65%. Just under half of pros use these sites to get quotes on new material orders, search for new product vendors, or order new materials. 37% use manufacturer/supplier websites to see bills or invoices.

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Conclusions

Website use across all pro customer segments is increasing.What is expected on a supplier’s website is expanding. Because most pros are researching and purchasing building supply products online, building supply dealers and manufacturers should ideally have a website with product information and purchasing capabilities. Unlike consumer sites, building supply dealers must also provide the “help me manage my business” elements on their sites including account/invoice access, quotes, order and delivery status, and other.

Contact us to learn how contractors uses online search and buying as it relates to YOUR products. Get deeper insights to your business.