H&L upgrades e-commerce platform

H&L upgrades e-commerce platform

H&L launches upgraded e-commerce platform to bolster sales and service

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

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HARDWARE and Lumber Limited (H&L) will today launch its upgraded e-commerce platform in an effort to increase sales, expand customer service offerings and provide greater access to its products in store.

The platform will offer customers wider options for purchasing and sourcing supplies.

Addressing a recent Jamaica Observer Business Forum Gordon Webster, general manager of e-channels and technology at H&L, said he was expecting the platform to also help with substantially driving sales for the company.

“We will be comfortable with a 40-50 per cent increase in our sales,” he told the Business Observer.

He said through the additional investments the service, though already operational, will be able to deliver greater functionality to customers and “allow for a further integration of the website with what is happening in stores”.

H&L, which consists of 10 Rapid True Value and five H&L Agro stores islandwide, caters to a large market heavily concentrated on construction, home improvement and agricultural supplies. Gordon said that while the stores together carry over 20,000 products, only a fraction of these will be carried by the e-commerce platform.

“We'll launch with just over 2,000 products but should increase to about 3,000 within the next couple of weeks. And we'll [also] have some web-only exclusives over the next weeks and months and then we'll continue to add products on a regular basis,” he stated.

“We really give our customers a number of ways to get to us — the website is just one side of what we are doing with e-commerce. We have a number of other legs that support and provide customer support,” he said.

Webster pointed to a WhatsApp service launched earlier this year, a customer service centre which fields calls from Jamaica and abroad, along with a loyalty card programme which offers special pricing and notification to customers, as some of the company's latest innovations during the pandemic.

“We have been able to do kerbside delivery and arrange store pickups through these same platforms, and we are expanding this to other social media,” he further noted.

The e-channels manager said that through the provision of these services, customers are to be provided with more options of how to securely conduct business transactions with the company.

“The new platform is fully integrated with our core accounting and billing software. When you walk into a H&L Agro or Rapid True Value store and buy something at the point of sale, it actually will be the same system that will be used on the e-commerce platform,” he explained.

When asked about the value of the investment in the platform, Webster offered only that millions were spent offset the project.

“The company has gone through a number of changes over the years with investing in the brand and the infrastructure, so the latest developments are just part and parcel of that continuous investment. At the start of the year we had a limited delivery fleet which we have also expanded,” he said, noting that the expansion of its residential delivery capabilities will allow for greater islandwide drop-offs.

“The fundamental precept that everything is based on is how to best service our customers, making it easier for them to do business with us. Regardless of where in the world they are, our mission is to help them achieve their project aspirations.

“We are removing barriers. That means that they don't have to come into a store to do business with us, they can do business from home, on their computer or phone, and we can get the goods to them,” he told the Business Observer.

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