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CASE STUDY How Travis Perkins used ecommerce to clear £30m of dead stock

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Travis Perkins, one of the largest suppliers of building materials to the UK’s building and construction industry started 2020 with a problem: £30 million of dead stock cluttering up its stores. This unsold inventory not only took up space, but also was a huge unrealised asset.

To clear it – and bank the cash – the retailer turned to ecommerce, commissioning 5874 Commerce, an expert in eCommerce and integration, to create a platform distributing the unsold stock. While the project was launched before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the lockdown has made this initiative more-timely as stores stayed closed for a number of weeks at the peak of the crisis.

Creating new supply routes

The website went live at the start of July, with the first 14 branches. By the end of 2020, Travis Perkins is planning to have all 640 branches set up online. The site allows branches to upload their own products to the platform. Customers can order their products via the website and the branch manager then gets in touch to organise collection.

Katherine Green, digital trading manager at Travis Perkins, explains what happened: “Construction is back up and running and our services are very much needed. In just 10 weeks 5874 Commerce created a completely new site for us, using the BigCommerce platform. Branches are in charge of their own sub-domain websites, meaning they can add the products they have in stock and dictate prices. With desktop and app versions, it’s a straightforward site for our local teams to use across platforms, providing them a new revenue stream as the country adjusts to post-Covid normality.”

The power of digital

The Travis Perkins website proved a vital asset during the lockdown period, with stores shut for a number of weeks. Online traffic increased by around 100% during this period, to over 1 million sessions per week and the website was an essential hub for keeping customers informed.

Early lockdown was a time of great confusion and frustration for the industry, with pressure from trade body Build UK to clarify how and whether construction could carry on and Balfour Beatty advising staff to answer that they’re “essential workers” if challenged while out and about.

Green says: “Our website was a vital link with our customer base during this time, as were our Facebook and Twitter channels. Extending our website so it can also support our branches in clearing dead stock has been an important development in our digital strategy, and very much something which will continue further in the future.”

She adds: “Across the board, consumers are looking for more convenient ways of trading with businesses, in both their personal and professional lives. Our construction customers, whether trade or “self-builders” are no different. Having well-stocked bricks-and-mortar stores is important, but so too is giving buyers the opportunity to plan ahead and know that what they need will be waiting for them. Our dead stock site allows them to do this and get better value than ever.”

Merging technical with user friendly

By working closely with the trading team at Travis Perkins to understand the needs of the branches, 5874 Commerce was able to deliver a site which provided all of the functionality required, while making it user-friendly for stores to manage.

Rupert Cross, project lead and chief digital officer at 5874 Commerce says: “When Travis Perkins approached us, it was clear they were looking for more than a website. They needed an eCommerce strategy which solves a business challenge – how to clear £30m worth of dead stock. The site we’ve created for them fits into this broader context – it acts as a hub and distribution mechanism for the products sitting in individual stores. We are excited to see the site go live and are continuing to work closely with Katherine and her team, to provide training to the stores, and optimise the strategy further.”

Green sums up: “The project has highlighted the benefits and opportunities of digitisation within our business, particularly when it comes to product fulfilment. Our branches are taking to the system really fast and we are focusing on increasing the number set up.”

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