The Q4 2017 report of the European Mechanical Installation Monitor, themed 'Future role of wholesale', has discovered that in most of the investigated countries more than 70 percent of HVAC installers and plumbers would not buy professional materials at Amazon.
HVAC installers and plumbers in Europe believe that pure online players are the biggest threat for the future of the wholesale. Amazon, however, is only considered as a competitor by a small group. USP Marketing Consultancy has asked the following question: “If Amazon would start to sell HVAC products to professionals in your country and offer terms that are comparable with traditional wholesale, would you consider buying at Amazon?”
Overall, the majority of the HVAC installers and plumbers are not too open to the idea of buying from Amazon. In Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands this was true for more than 60 percent of those consulted.
Germany emerged as one of the most traditional countries in this research with regards to loyalty and the importance of traditional wholesale. Buying at general online players is not well-established, and 71 percent of German HVAC installers and plumbers indicated that they would not consider Amazon as a purchase channel for professional products, pointing out difficulty in returning the products, the perceived lack of knowledge and expertise regarding plumbing and HVAC products, and the lack of personal contact.
In Poland, HVAC installers are divided. It was revealed that one third of installers would consider buying at Amazon, while one third of them would not. After the UK, Poland appears to be the second country with a high share of installers having a more positive attitude towards Amazon as a channel for purchasing professional products.
In the UK, the highest share of HVAC installers and plumbers demonstrated an openness towards Amazon; 42 percent said they would consider using it. Their reasons included cheaper prices, fast delivery and good experiences with ordering at Amazon. As a whole, the willingness of UK HVAC installers and plumbers to switch between channels is one of the highest in Europe.
The main reasons for dismissing Amazon as a purchase channel differed across countries, but the most important and most frequently mentioned considerations were the lack of expertise and personal contact, things that installers still prioritise as unique features of traditional wholesale. Even when installers do decide to buy online, this is usually at specialised web shops rather than general online stores.
While Amazon may only be viewed as a potential purchase channel by a minority of European HVAC installers and plumbers, online stores could still be a significant threat to traditional wholesalers. If online players improve their performance, payment terms, discounts, deliveries and stock, they would have a strong chance of growing their market share. For the next couple of years, however, it is expected that traditional wholesale will remain the most important purchase channel for installers.
The results of the research from USP Marketing Consultancy are based on 1,200 interviews with HVAC installers and plumbers in six European countries.