As ‘smart factory’ cloud-based technology becomes standard in many industries, for the most part, the construction industry still isn’t on board. Fewer than 20% of construction businesses are currently evolving their working models to incorporate new advances in technology1.

Without clients driving a move towards advanced technology, builders’ merchants seem content to stand still too. Even in the face of evidence that productivity can increase by between 30-40% by adopting new technologies2, it’s as if organisations in the merchant sector are waiting for customers or competitors to make the first move.

96% of businesses now say that Big Data & Analytics will become important to the way they do business in the next three years3, because it will give them unprecedented insight into their customers and operations. So, by failing to adopt new technologies you could be putting yourself at a disadvantage.

Technology, such as Microsoft Dynamics 365, is perfect for builders’ merchants. It has the ability to automatically capture data from across your business, and retain it centrally. As a result, you can learn more about your customers and products, and make well-informed decisions based on facts.

This saves you the effort of collecting and collating the data yourself from different machines and programs, saving you time and providing a much more well-rounded view of your business, employees and customers.

Here are five ways you can use that data to unlock more profit:

1.  More intelligent business decisions

Bringing together your data from across the entire business is just step 1: it can help you make more informed decisions around stock management, contract fulfilment and everything in-between.

But today’s advanced analytics software, built into technology like Dynamics 365, is taking this a step further.

Imagine how much time and money you could save your customers, and in turn their customers, if, for example, the boilers you sold contained sensors that could tell you when issues were imminent? You could use technological tools to look for patterns in operation, and detect faults before they happen. You could then pass this information on to your customers, supplying the necessary parts in advance of course, for them to rectify the problem before it becomes an expensive disaster.

You could also collate the data from these sensors into a visual format that allows you to provide proactive service and support, and more value to your customers.

2.  Real-time stock management

Good stock management is essential if you want to run a profitable business. As a merchant and supplier to the merchanting industry, you might not have to worry about product shelf-lives but having too much of an item takes up valuable real estate, and not having enough of an item might see you lose out on sales.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 provides a real-time view of your inventory and updates automatically with every sale and purchase. This makes it much easier to manage stock and you can even set it up to notify you when levels are low.

And with advanced predictive analytics that can make extremely accurate sales forecasts, there’s no excuse for being unable to fill a customer’s order.

3.  Improved customer relationships

Your customers simply need to search the internet to find better pricing and availability, so it’s now more important than ever to find new ways to set yourself apart.

Delivering outstanding customer service, consistently, is a great way to achieve this, and Microsoft Dynamics 365 with its built-in customer relationship management tools allows you to gather and manage a vast range of data on every customer interaction.

You can use this information to work closely with customers; predicting and responding to their demands, resulting in a proactive service of greater value.

This is perhaps the reason why the Direct Marketing Association found that 84 percent of respondents plan to increase spending in data-driven marketing4.

4.  Making the most of your e-commerce opportunity

Your customers, regardless of whether they’re working on a building site or in someone’s loft, should be able to do business with you at their convenience. In today’s world, that means they should have to look no further than their phone to check your stock levels, get a quote, place an order or arrange delivery.

The first step is selecting a CRM solution into which you can funnel your data and then build a visual representation of it. You could even go a step further and develop your own native app to encourage quicker and simpler engagement; capitalising on the fact that 88% of consumers now use mobile retail apps5.

This can be particularly effective if you add unique functionality. For example, Imperial Bricks recently released an app that allows users to submit a photo of existing brickwork to receive the closest product match they have in stock.

5.  Data-driven marketing

Historically, merchants have relied on word of mouth and relationships to drive business. Now though, it’s becoming easier to generate business through digital marketing activities.

This can be as simple as scanning your sales data and picking up the phone to call regular customers that haven’t made a purchase lately, as part of a sales initiative. However, with a little more effort and the support of CRM software, you can create digital marketing campaigns that may lead to a surge in sales.

Whichever direction you decide to go, taking control of your data is the first step towards creating more interest and sales.

About HSO

HSO is an award-winning Microsoft Gold Partner with over 25 years of experience in implementing Dynamics solutions. Our experts in Microsoft Dynamics solutions enable organisations to work effectively, manage change, and compete globally.

We have the specialist expertise to deliver industry-focused Microsoft Dynamics implementations for merchants and trade distributors.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 combines Enterprise Resource Planning software and Customer Relationship Management software to form a unique product that provides everything you need to operate with the customer at the centre of all your processes.