In line with this trend, Billcad Holdings, a specialist information-technology software company, in conjunction with cement supplier PPC, launched a technology promotion into 3 500 hardware retailers around the country, offering them the opportunity to become au fait with electronic commerce.
Billcad Holdings chairperson Andre Potgieter reports that the home improvement and do-it-yourself market is expected to grow to R5-billion from R2-billion last year, which presents substantial opportunities for visionary suppliers of building materials and services.
“With merchants facing greater challenges to grow, be more competitive and maintain good margins, we are offering them the technological solution which will allow them to meet these demands and become more productive,” says Potgieter.
For R495 a month, merchants will have a dedicated state-of-the-art Pentium computer installed in their store with a range of Billcad software loaded on the system.
In addition, they will receive free Internet and Intranet connection to communicate electronically with customers and suppliers.
They will be able to host their own Web site and have access to a hot-line for software support and free training.
Commenting on the joint promotional campaign, PPC marketing director Colin Jones says that installing state-of-the-art technology into the retail store will assist retailers and customers in becoming more efficient, by offering a cost-effective solution which benefits all concerned.
Furthermore, says Jones, access to Internet connectivity with the retailers’ customers and suppliers will facilitate just-in-time stock management and handling, and assist in reducing retail prices to customers.
“Becoming more technologically aware will also place the retailer in a unique position in that there would be an electronic barrier to entry for his or her direct competitors,” adds Jones.
The Billcad software loaded onto the system includes Billcost, e-Spec OnLine, and elements of the Databuild Infoview programme.
Billcost is a project estimating, management, scheduling and administrative-control software.
Its built-in database contains current average material prices and labour rates for all nine regions.
It allows a building merchant to load its own current price list, and quickly perform cost-estimating services, or allow customers to access prices on-line.
This tool allows for accurate costing, planning and tight control of project activity and good cash-flow management.
e-Spec OnLine sources the best material options for customers, as well as offering advice, providing specifications, and placing orders on-line.
It is a regularly-updated database containing a large amount of information on building materials, specifications, product installation instructions and on-line product brochures.
The software also allows for an electronic interface between suppliers and customers, allowing on-line enquiries for construction- and civil-related products.
Building-material merchants can use this product to help contractors source material options, or to advise or guide the do-it-yourself market on products and their use.
Merchants obtain a year’s free advertising as an added bonus.
Databuild Infoview allows the user to identify new work and upcoming projects and tenders to assist them in staying informed about industry opportunities.
It is a sophisticated database of building and construction project work still in the planning phase.
Information is systematically and regularly gathered from architects, engineers, quantity surveyors and other planning professionals.
The information is sorted by region and updated monthly.