Website in time for staycation

Independent merchant Haldane Fisher has launched its first e-Commerce platform in time for a predicted house improvement surge as many opt to stay at home during the holiday period.

The platform, built by the award-winning eCommonSense, will initially be for Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland customers only. Later this year, they will be going live for customers in England and the Isle of Man.

Future-proofing the business involved sorting out multiple challenges that were all dependent on each other. These included sorting out the product data for 10,000+ products, simplifying the pricing structures and changing to a new version of their ERP system that allowed full integration with the back office.

For many builders’ merchants, working to resolve all of these simultaneously would have been too much but the board of Haldane Fisher recognised the importance of having a class-leading eCommerce solution in place.

David Haldane, Managing Director, said: “Our first attempts at websites showed us that if the digital solution is not fully integrated with the back office, it is not worth doing due to the time and resource needed to administer. So when we made the decision to go online, we of course looked at other providers but the more we talked with eCommonSense, we realised it was their platform that would deliver what we needed.” 

Haldane Fisher are one of the leading independent suppliers to the construction industry with 19 branches across the UK and Ireland. They started this journey to future proof their business about 18 months ago. They went live with their new ERP software, Kerridge Babbage, about four months ago (March 2020) just as the Covid-19 crisis shut down the world.

David added: “The pandemic made us realise the amount of business that we were missing if we had been live with the website. Overall though we came through in good shape – we adapted our business model, and we evolved.”

Initial financial projections are incredibly modest, given the many uncertainties with the economy. They expect web revenues to be about 3% of their total turnover (£77m). Haldane Fisher is adopting a strategy that is a hybrid approach with both branches and online working hand in hand.

“We’re confident that we have now got a robust website as a result of all the hard work that all sides put in throughout the process. We pushed Andy and his team very hard and they delivered the goods every single time and have allowed us to add tremendous value to our online presence,” said David.

“Our staff are all enthusiastic – we have nominated an eCommerce Champion in each of our branches. Suddenly there is a lot of fresh interest and we feel the collective excitement of opening a new virtual store.”