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News I published 15 September 2021

Pure online purchase channel used more by contractors due to COVID

For obvious reasons, there has been a massive rise in online shopping during the pandemic. Health concerns and closed shops pretty much forced consumers to stay away from physical stores and shop more online instead. This to the benefit of pure online stores, shops that do not have a physical store and sell purely online. These pure online players are not just a purchase channel for consumers in general, but also for specific professional segments like contractors.

Be that as it may, contractors are quite traditional in their purchasing and pure online stores have never gained much ground among them. The question is whether COVID changed anything about that, and whether pure online players had more chance to get their hands on a larger slice of the contractor pie during the pandemic? That is one of the questions answered in the H1 2021 report of USP Marketing Consultancy’s Contractor Monitor, which focuses on the purchasing behaviour of contractors from eight European countries.

Pure online channels used more, yet still yield an insignificant share of wallet

As we explained before, the purchasing behaviour of contractors generally did not change much during the pandemic. According to the contractors, they did not really use purchase channels like the wholesaler, manufacturer or DIY store more or less than usual due to corona. A nett of 2% of contractors said they used the DIY store less, which is rather insignificant given the tiny share of wallet of 3% allocated to DIY stores.

Pure online shops, on the other hand, seem to be the only purchase channel of which the allocated share of the wallet of contractors changed. As expected, contractors bought more often via pure online shops, albeit ever so slightly more. A nett total of 5% used that channel more due to COVID, which is still not much but quite a rise in the conservative world of contractor purchasing.

That does not say anything about how much more they bought in value from pure online players though. In fact, when looking at the share of wallet, it seems that not much has changed regarding the pure online channel since our last measurement in 2018. With a share of wallet of only 2%, an even smaller share than that of DIY stores, pure online stores seem to still be a very insignificant purchase channel in the conservative world of European contractors.

Country differences are vast though

Before giving up on pure online channels to sell your wares to contractors altogether, it is important to realise that the European contractor population is vast and diverse, resulting in large differences between countries. Generally, the biggest market for pure online players is found in the UK, where 55% of the contractors say they use that channel. That is especially much when compared to Germany, where only 5% of contractors report the same.

Regarding the influence COVID had on contractors’ usage of the pure online purchase channel, differences are just as big. Whereas the nett European average was only 5%, for instance, a whopping 18% of British contractors reported to use the pure online channel more due to covid. However, just like with the European average, that increase does not translate into much growth in the share of wallet spent through that channel in the UK. Despite being the biggest market for pure online players, the share of wallet dedicated to them by contractors is still only 5%.

These differences per country, be them large or subtle, make all the difference when designing solid  sales and marketing strategies. To see how COVID affected contractors’ usage of other online and offline purchase and information channels in eight European countries, we refer you to the H1 2021 report of USP Marketing Consultancy’s Contractor Monitor.

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