A common question we get from buyers around the country is why they should purchase fire sprinkler or fire hose material online. It’s no secret – most of the products available through our site or various others are available locally. So what are the advantages and disadvantages to purchasing these products online? I’ll lay out the most common below starting with disadvantages.
Disadvantages for buying online:
1) Shipping charges – To be 100% honest, if you’re debating between purchasing material online or offline, more than likely you need to factor in shipping costs. The quantity, weight, and your job’s start date all factor into whether shipping charges are a deciding factor when choosing a local distributor over an online one.
2) No ‘Will Call’ – An extension of the shipping argument. Buying material from a local distributor gives you the option of stopping into their facility to pick up your items. Or, for the odd instance where you’re short one or more heads for a job, you can quickly replenish.
3) No face to face relationship – Pretty straight forward. Can anyone honestly say who they bought their last Amazon order from, the actual individual? While the answer is not always no, more often than not your relationship is with an email address, not a person.
Advantages for buying fire sprinklers online:
1) Bigger selection – It is more cost effective to ‘inventory’ products online, meaning the number of products listed can reflect stock in various locations. It is difficult for a local vendor to stock all the material that could possibly be needed at one location. While they can still order from partner facilities, the advantage of the local distributor is quickly negated when a shipment is still required. For us at QRFS, we distribute from 9 locations across the US and use algorithms (with a splash of common sense) to determine the most cost-effective and timely locations to ship stock from while still offering over 1,500+ fire safety products at any given time.
2) Better administrative control – A challenge for any business buyer purchasing from a variety of companies is organizing invoices, quotes, delivery times, and spec sheets. Buying online with an account allows the buyer to login and download all these documents and more with the click of a mouse.
3) Pricing – What does Amazon, eBay, Zappos, and QRFS have in common? We all leverage a lower over-head model, multi-point distribution, and nationwide buying power to drive prices lower.
4) Information – this is an odd-ball, but I think it is very important to add. Whether consumers or business buyers, seeking timely and relevant information online prior to a purchase is becoming the new normal. When you purchase fire sprinkler system components or fire hose online you get the advantage of scoping out multiple products and distributors before you buy. Generally, local distributors are less likely to have all the information you need available 24/7. Buying online provides that.
The others that came to mind were customer service, warranty, returns, and payment terms. While I can’t speak for our competition, at QRFS we offer a toll-free phone number during normal business hours that is answered by a person every time and 24/7 email support (customer service), manufacturer’s warranty on all products we sell, an easy returns process, and for our contractor customers the ability to apply for 30 day terms. So while I could make an argument for either side on these four points, I’m calling it a ‘wash’.
For more information about the products we sell, click any of the links to the left, call us at (888) 361-6662, or visit http://qrfs.com.
Did I miss any? Leave me a comment below!