There is no denying that 2020 was a defining year for many small businesses around the United States. This year alone, one-fourth of all small businesses have been forced to close. The businesses that managed to survive were those quick to adopt online sales strategies in order to better serve their customers.
With online sales predicted to take over retail sales as soon as 2024, it’s no longer a question of whether HVAC companies need to move toward online sales, but how quickly and effectively they can do it.
HVAC companies interested in growth need to focus on the facts:
- Buyer behavior is rapidly changing
- HVAC competitors are adapting
- New technology is creating higher standards of service
That means HVAC companies must continue to be creative about the ways they attract, retain, and capture customers throughout the buying journey. Heading into 2021, the question is, will your company adapt or die?
Buyer Behavior is Changing
Prior to the pandemic, nearly 90% of the United States’ commerce took place in brick and mortar stores. Since early 2020, consumers’ attitudes, behaviors, and overall purchasing habits have shifted.
With the introduction of a hugely virtual workforce, more people are adapting and enjoying the additional time spent at home. Consumers now have the freedom to order groceries, household essentials, and even absorb media with just a few clicks. This accessibility has given consumers more flexibility to comparison shop online, a trend that’s likely to continue in 2021.
At the same time, a report by Accenture shows that nearly 64% of people are still worried about the impact of COVID-19 on personal job security, with close to 88% concerned about the economy as a whole. What does this mean for HVAC contractors? Customers will continue to spend more time researching purchases and comparing prices online in an effort to make smart buying decisions for their families. As people shop more consciously and embrace digital commerce as a means of buying responsibly, companies must adapt.
Competitors are Adapting
In the U.S., E-Commerce sales are projected to overtake in-store sales by 2024. This shift in the economic paradigm is one retailers will have to adapt to, and quickly. HVAC companies that have begun selling products and services online are already reporting higher sales.
Watsco, a distributor of HVAC supplies has seen a nearly 12% increase in quarterly sales since the beginning of 2020. “Branch locations were quickly transformed from retail walk-in showrooms to no-touch E-Commerce curbside pickup centers,” said Albert Nahmed, CEO of Watsco Inc.
For small and medium-sized HVAC businesses, seizing the opportunity that an online store presents will provide increased revenue through new channels. HVAC companies are finding value in selling filters, maintenance agreements, and even fully-installed systems directly through their websites. It is what consumers are asking for, so leaders are stepping up to answer the demand.
Karen from Liberty Comfort Systems said, “Having an online store is great for our customers. It is convenient and easy for customers to order filters. It saves time when they can go right to the website, place their order, and have the filter delivered within a couple of days.”
In 2021, the leaders in the HVAC industry will be those that recognize the need to shift focus and adapt to meet consumers exactly where they are in their buying journey and exactly how they want to shop.
New Technology is Creating Higher Standards of Service
One silver lining this year has been the speed to which helpful new technologies have emerged and penetrated the U.S. market. Healthcare organizations now offer virtual consultations, airlines have enhanced online ticketing services, and movie theaters even sell popcorn for pickup! Successful companies adapt. The same is true in the HVAC industry.
Through services like Contractor Commerce, small to medium-sized HVAC companies are now able to sell products, services, and even drive leads and take orders for fully-installed systems online. The best part? They don’t even need an internal marketing or digital team to do so.
By taking advantage of the technology offered by Contractor Commerce, HVAC companies can integrate an online store with their existing websites in as little as 15 minutes. This technology gives customers complete control over ordering products like furnace filters and getting them drop-shipped directly to them.
New technologies can open new revenue streams for companies that are willing to embrace change.
It’s Time to Bring Your HVAC Company into the Digital Age
The studies don’t lie. Buyer behavior is changing rapidly and the trends are likely to persist well past 2021. As a business looking to not just survive, but grow, it’s your responsibility to meet customers where and how they’re willing to buy. Utilizing new technologies can help, but don’t wait too long! Hundreds of HVAC contractors across the U.S. are already pivoting to a model that includes E-Commerce as a revenue stream, and seeing success. E-Commerce is the future of the HVAC industry. Make 2021 the year you incorporate an online store into your business.