Manningham Concrete Ltd continues to grow and expand with the help of e-commerce
Based in Bradford, this family run business supplies both the building trade and DIY enthusiasts. Manningham sells a wide range of products from hardware, timber, doors, fencing and decking to roofing and tools. It also had a dedicated kitchen and bathroom showroom, as well as a separate door showroom.
Manningham is a growing business and three years ago it made a strategic investment in e-commerce.
Michael Tomlinson, eCommerce Manager, at Manningham Concrete explains why; “the demand for e-commerce was continually growing and we had tried various types of online selling, but with limited success. Our existing platform was inflexible and not integrated into our software system which meant we spent a lot of time duplicating our effort.”
Border Merchant Systems Ltd is Manningham’s existing software provider and approached Manningham with a proposal for e-commerce and, according to Michael, “the time and the fit felt right. We made the decision to switch to a Magento platform which we have found to be very stable and user-friendly”.
Since the launch of the new website, Manningham has seen a doubling of on-line sales every year, for the last two years.
They put the success of this down to their approach to e-commerce. “We treated the on-line launch as we would have done a new branch, with the time and investment that goes into this,” explained Michael. “To make e-commerce a success it had to be treated as an outlet in its own right. Initially it started out as an extension to our existing business, but now it is a fundamental part of the way we do business here at Manningham. We have our own team to run the site and our sales continue to diversify and grow. We have found that new customers have come from the DIY sector however, our existing trade customers are also using the website to source information and check availability before purchasing directly from us.”
Michael explains why Border has been an essential partner in this whole process. “They have experience of builders’ merchants and their e-commerce needs. Their technical expertise has enabled us to implement online trading quickly and helped us to resolve any issues we came across along the way. There have been challenges, but with their support a big project like this has been managed with relative ease.”
One of the fundamental advantages of using Border was that it allowed Manningham full integration with its existing CounterAct Software.
“Before using Border’s Magento platform it was chaotic keeping information up-to-date. It was also very time-consuming as everything had to be entered manually, twice, and information was often out of sync with each other. The integration with our software allows the prices to be quickly adjusted, orders to be reviewed with delivery integration across our branches.”
Manningham has now partnered with Border in the new account customer portal. This new facility allows trade account customers to log into a secure section of the website to carry out account management functions such as review their account status, make payments, print invoices, statements or delivery notes. Manningham’s ethos to grow and develop will continue with the implementation of on-line account customer trading this autumn.
Michael’s advice would be to look at e-commerce as a virtual branch in itself. “Do not consider the project as a bolt on, but allow for investment into this vital asset, and support it with good marketing in order to be successful. It is an ever increasing part of the business with more people buying online and a growing diverse range of customer types. With the support and expertise of Border, and full integration into CounterAct, it has certainly been worth the investment as online trading is now a major, and growing, part of how we do business.”