It’s not often I receive posts from PR companies that are worth me posting. I do get asked quite often to put guest posts on, I often ignore most of them too. However, I was sent something today by PR company Publicity Seekers which illustrates a point I have been banging on about for years. It won’t take much of a guess to see why:

INTERNET experts The Consultancy has emphasised the importance of a digital presence in the windows and doors industry after statistics revealed that three out of four potential customers log onto the internet every day.

The official figures, from the Office of National Statistics, show that daily internet use has doubled from 35% to 73% since 2006.

And a staggering 92% of 25-35-year-olds regularly buy good or services online.

Richie Thornton, Director at The Consultancy, a specialist in digital sales and online communications in the windows and doors industry, is not surprised at the figures but said firms who do not have online ordering or quoting systems are being left in the dark ages.

He said: “The industry has come a long way since the 80’s and 90’s when you got the traditional salesman turn up with a briefcase and a mountain of brochures and take hours going through the whole process.

“Customers are a lot more educated these days and have the ability to research and communicate with others at the click of a button. The days of turning up on a doorstep and trying to pin customers down to a sale there and then are quickly disappearing.

“Customers tend to check out companies online and price check a lot more, particularly in the current climate. They can also visit social media sites and learn about a company’s reputation, good or bad.

“If you’re not selling online then you are missing out on a massive share of the market.”

The digital revolution has not been confined to the younger generation either. Statistics show that daily internet usage by the over 65s has jumped massively over the past seven years. In 2006 just over 9% reported using the internet every day compared with today’s figure of 37%.

Richie continued: “The glazing and door industry was never traditionally at the forefront of the digital revolution but thankfully the majority now know that to compete they must have a good online presence. That does not necessarily have to be an expensive high-end website, there are plenty of lower cost solutions. We offer packages through which start at under £800.”

Richie believes that it will become the norm for customers to have chosen their products before they make any contact with the companies. Systems will become fully automated from the point of sale, through the invoicing process to the manufacturing and delivery. With companies themselves becoming far more savvy with simple but efficient digital systems.

Richie said: “There’s no need to be frightened by digital systems, if anything they are more simple, far less time consuming and can be tailored to suit your individual business needs and working practices.”

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I will say that I don’t quite agree with everything in this release. For example, it says that systems will become fully automated to the point where customers may never make any physical contact with the company. I don’t believe this could ever be the case for our industry. Our product are very highly bespoke and need very accurate measuring. Add into that the immense amount of choice and the way every house is different in the UK in some way, it would be a gargantuan task to fully automate our industry to the point where a homeowner can accurately order his or her windows online with the need of sales and surveying staff.

However what I can fully agree on is that if you’re not online, you’re losing ground in the marketplace very quickly. I have long said that the internet is going to be the kingpin of selling in the future, and we are at that point in time now where the online world is now making the very most of it’s dominant position. I’m afraid that if your window installation business isn’t online in some way, you’re future may be quite short lived.

92% is a very large number. Maybe it is slightly deceiving to say that all the 92% are capable of buying windows for their own home. But it probably won’t be much less than that. We should all be making the most of this huge potential customer base.