The electrical wholesaling business is changing, with e-commerce giants encroaching on territory traditionally held by local operations. In a 2018 survey, a full third of the electrical wholesalers said Amazon Business was the biggest threat to their business. That’s more than twice the respondents who said “economic instability” or “inability to attract top talent” were their greatest concerns.
In the same survey, more than half of the respondents said they lacked a plan to compete with Amazon. But small and medium-sized businesses can offer customers something larger competitors typically don’t: value-added services.
A value-added service is an additional task applied to orders, such as bundling or assembling products prior to shipment. By offering the extras that save electricians time and money, any wholesaler can grow their customer base—and with the right initial investment in equipment, these services become quick and affordable.
Here’s how to sell electrical products, regardless of the competition, by offering helpful value-added services.
1. Offer cable paralleling services.
Construction electricians save tremendous time when they pull multiple wires together, rather than running each line individually. To achieve this efficiency boost, they need wires pre-loaded onto reels—often multi-compartment steel drums that keep cables organized, while allowing them to be pulled together or individually.
Collect a fleet of steel cable reels in a variety of configurations with fixed or free-spinning compartments. Customers can return the reels for re-use, or buy them outright. The key is to offer this value-added service in the first place.
2. Install smart parcel lockers for after-hours pick-up—or 24/7 on-site delivery.
Prevent customer delays by offering the chance to pick up orders directly from your warehouse, any time of day or night. Set up an outdoor parcel locker outside your facility. The Will Call Dropbox from BHS is ideal for electrical materials, with an extended base locker sized for rigid conduit orders. Optional smart locks allow you to send the customer a one-time key for access; simply load the order, deliver the key code, and let customers collect materials when they need them, whether you’re open or not.
Another option is to install a Will Call Dropbox at your customer’s job site. This allows you to complete secure, contactless deliveries overnight, or when the customer’s team is otherwise unavailable.
3. Remove packaging that causes waste at the job site.
Electricians lose valuable time removing components from cardboard packaging—and cleaning up the mess left behind. This is a particular concern with light fixtures, which typically ship wrapped in layers of cardboard and plastic. But packaging isn’t the only way to protect these components during shipment.
Light Fixture Carts from BHS store 12 to 48 light fixtures, depending on fixture specifications and the model, complete with lock bars to keep products secure. Remove packaging, load the order onto the cart, and ship a complete delivered solution. Customers can simply roll it off the truck and start installing—which brings us to our next tip.
4. Ship orders pre-loaded onto material handling equipment.
A delivered solution is a material order that ships on a specialized cart, ready to move straight to the installation site. This is a powerful value-added service, as electricians often spend up to 40 percent of the shift simply handling materials. When those materials arrive pre-loaded onto a cart, electricians can get straight to work.
Ship conduit orders on a Conduit Carrier Cart, unspooled wire lengths on a Wire Coil Cart, and complete cable runs on a Parallel Reel Payout. Your customers will save time on the job, which will keep them coming back.
5. Streamline cut-to-length cable distribution systems.
Cutting cable orders to specific lengths is a common value-added service, but you can put the emphasis on value by ensuring accuracy with every order—while saving time at the cable warehouse. Spool Winding Trolleys from BHS automatically count every linear foot of cable added to the reel. They also save time by turning take-up reels without requiring operators to reposition reels; an overhead rim drive allows you to move the Trolley to the reel, and not the other way around.
For even greater advantages, choose a Spool Winding Trolley that integrates with the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). These IIoT-enabled models allow managers to program orders through a cloud portal, tracking valuable data throughout the process.
With value-added services like these, independent electrical wholesalers can maintain a strong competitive edge—even against large e-commerce disruptors. To discuss more electrical material handling solutions, contact the BHS sales team at 1.800.BHS.9500.