Gert Rademaker

Supporting its suppliers’ innovations and accelerating digitalization to improve its response to end customers, while maintaining a solid human relationship – those are the challenges for EURO-MAT, the construction materials distributor active in 26 European countries and a long-standing customer of Saint-Gobain. We find out more from the company’s CEO, Gert Rademaker.

12 April 2021 | Source: E-newsletter Saint-Gobain

What role does distribution play in the launch of new products?

Innovations are very important for distributors. They provide an opportunity to stand out and, in most cases, give it additional margin. But the product portfolios are huge and when a brand that you distribute brings out an innovation, it is very difficult to pay attention to it and sell it. It can
soon go unnoticed.
The supplier must therefore put in a lot of energy to sell its product to the distributor. Because no matter how much it promotes its innovation or pays for advertising, it is all in vain unless it has a strong and sincere relationship with its distributor. It is above all a human business. The supplier must really build a relationship with its distributors to ensure that the seller knows the brand and its products well and becomes an ambassador capable of selling its innovation. At Euro-Mat, we only want to sell products we fully support and really believe in. That is why we distribute a limited number of brands, supported with a very high level of advice.

The sector has stepped up its digitalization in recent years, and even more so in recent months. What effect is that having at Euro-Mat, on your work with your suppliers and customers?

The COVID-19 crisis has taught us a lot about digital on a large scale and at an accelerated pace. Distribution still has numerous standardization problems, especially in terms of product listings. In most cases, data is not analyzed consistently. Everyone thinks that their system is best. However, combined action is necessary to be profitable on the international market, particularly within the framework of BIM (Building Information Modeling) projects. This means that several product references are requested by the customer in order to design a complete solution. If the products are not listed in the same tool, they will not be offered to the customer. Unfortunately, we have noted that only a limited number of suppliers have adequate solutions involving comprehensive product offerings. That is why Euro-Mat promotes ETIM (Electro-Technical Information Model) as a classification standard for technical products, to ensure that all manufacturers can classify their products and better respond to end-customer demand.
As well as the architects who design their projects using BIM, we have more and more independent customers that are very agile and fond of multitasking.
They also need comprehensive ranges of solutions, as they buy everything in one place. And so they expect the best advice…

“Physical” sales and online sales – how do you see the future?

Some players are moving very quickly into digital, the question is whether they have sufficient focus on the end user. The end user is who is most important in our business. It is imperative not to become too distant and to prioritize human contact. I am convinced that distribution customers are still very much in need of direct contact and advice. And they want to see and touch products and be inspired by them. Planning is not their strongest quality and it is difficult for them to keep inventory. I think that digitalization in general, e-commerce and applications in particular, are therefore essential to help them manage their projects. That is why omni-channel is definitely the solution that suits them best, and that is also Euro-Mat’s strength – we are stepping up our digital activity while remaining close to our customers.