Over the last few years, BuildDirect developed a name for itself as an online store for home improvement products (think flooring and roofing materials, bathtubs, etc.). One issue with selling those kinds of products online is that you also have to build a logistics backend that allows you to ship these heavy items to the customer. BuildDirect did just that for its network of sellers on its one-year-old marketplace and today it is opening this shipping network to anybody who has to ship heavy goods across North America.
BuildDirect Gateway, as the new service is called, builds upon the company’s experience in working with its sellers to get products to its 40 warehouses and to customers. As the company’s VP of Marketing Joe Thompson (who was previously a GM at Amazon) told me, the company always had plans to open its shipping service beyond its own seller network. Its sellers, though, started asking the company about tapping into its supply chain network earlier than the company anticipated, so for the last few months, the company focused on testing this new service, and it’s now opening it almost a year earlier than originally planned.
“We want to create a smarter, simpler home improvement industry,” he said. “We always know that supply chain is a key part of it. We knew we wanted to open it up eventually.”
Gateway promises that it can shave hundreds of dollars off the usual cost of shipping a heavy item across the country. By tapping into its network, a seller could ship a 1,500-pound load across the country for just $200, for example. The company promises that its delivery costs will allow vendors to save up to 30 percent on their shipping costs. Thompson tells me that the company is able to do this by having those items effectively piggyback on existing trips it would have scheduled for its sellers anyway.
BuildDirect will also offer GateWay users access to its ocean freight service, which includes working with ocean service providers and ports to ensure goods move through customs effectively.
While the service is open to all vendors — no matter whether they sell their goods on BuildDirect or not — Thompson expects that many will want to tap into the company’s pool of potential buyers. So while Gateway won’t necessarily benefit the BuildDirect marketplace directly, customers will likely notice an increase in available products, and maybe even cheaper and faster delivery, thanks to the company’s ability to run its logistics network more efficiently now.