HMI Performance Incentives recently published a market research report, surveying contractors across a variety of industries, including landscaping, about their key buying preferences and loyalty drivers.
The largest share (just under 50%) of respondents were from small businesses earning less than $1 million in revenue annually, and the vast majority of them (78%) identified themselves as the owner or president of their company.
From the report:
Any distributor doing business today should be aware of channel erosion, the decay of the traditional sales channel from manufacturer to distributor to end user. Landscaping contractors shared that they regularly purchase from multiple distributors, an average of 3.21 distributors, slightly lower than the overall survey’s average of 3.5.
By and large, landscapers are still purchasing most of their material from distributors, but certainly not all of it. Around 70% of them reported buying at least three-quarters of their product from distributors. Around 76% of them purchase up to a quarter of their product through retailers, and around 57% purchase up to half of their product through manufacturers.
But as far as electronic buying goes, landscaping contractors are still biding their time. Around 41% of respondents reported buying none of their product through online-only companies like Amazon, and around 55% reported using online-only companies, but only up to a quarter of the time.
Generally speaking, smaller sized companies tend to be a bit slower to change up their way of doing business or adopt new technologies. Taking on a big change, like incorporating a full-scale eCommerce platform, takes resources smaller companies often don’t have. As such, it’s hardly surprising that the landscapers surveyed here, for the most part, reported being uninterested in the sales mechanisms of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
When asked about their eCommerce buying preferences, around 43% said they don’t purchase electronically at all, while about 35% said they prefer to use a retailer or distributor website.
What keeps landscapers loyal?
Going on the results of the study, landscape contractors are generally keeping things traditional when it comes to moving into the digital age – but that doesn’t mean their distributor partners don’t need to keep an eye on their customers’ buying preferences. Retailers, manufacturers, and even the occasional online-only store are edging in on the traditional distributor turf, so knowing what your buyers want from you is key.
Part of that is figuring out what’s going to inspire the strongest sense of loyalty in them. When asked what factors made them loyal to their distribution partners, landscaping contractors hit on a few common elements: product availability, technical expertise, and having a good relationship with the distributor’s inside salesperson chief among them.
There are more insights on contractor buying preferences to be found in HMI Performance Incentives’ market research report. Download the full report here.