Unsurprisingly, selling heavyweight products like flooring and roofing materials online takes a very different approach to logistics than selling books. As BuildDirect’s co-founder and CEO Jeff Booth and its VP of marketing Joe Thompson told me, the company spent the last few years perfecting its approach to how it ships its goods around the U.S. and Canada.
While the Vancouver, B.C.-based company can’t use FedEx or UPS to ship its goods, though, it’s still taking a page out of Amazon’s playbook by using data analysis to predict demand and adjust pricing to manage it.
With the launch of the marketplace, the company is now opening its platform up to third-party sellers. They, too, will get access to BuildDirect’s big data platform.
As the team told me, it took more than a year to build this platform. One of the reasons for this is that the company wanted to ensure that it neither overwhelmed sellers with unnecessary information and still gave them the data necessary to make informed decisions about how they want to sell on BuildDirect.
Sellers can choose which of BuildDirect’s warehouses they want to use to position their wares, for example. Shipping charges on BuildDirect depend on how far away a buyer is from one of the company’s warehouses and that obviously affects sales.
Using BuildDirect’s map-based dashboard, sellers can see the company’s predictions for their sales on the service and how many more sales they could generate by making changes to their sales strategies. If a buyer only uses BuildDirect’s warehouses in New Jersey and Montreal, for example, but sees that a lot of potential buyers from the West Coast are looking at its products (and maybe even willing to pay the high shipping costs), that seller can then choose to also sell some of its products out of BuildDirect’s Los Angeles warehouse.
In the past, BuildDirect often had a hard time keeping products it was selling itself in stock. To some degree, that’s a good problem to have for a retailer, but if it happens too often, it can also frustrate potential buyers and send them to Home Depot. With these new sellers on the platform, though, this should not be a problem going forward.
BuildDirect has been in business since 1999 and the company has now raised just over $112 million.