Save time and money purchasing your supplies online.
Faster, easier, cheaper and more varied shopping choices are the reasons online shopping has revolutionized consumer buying. These same advantages are also why more and more tradespeople are shopping for materials and professional supplies on the web. Online shopping is a trend that’s here to stay and as the buying options get more sophisticated, it’s helping tradespeople make more money by being more efficient.
Amazon is the king of online shopping for consumer goods, but it’s also grown into one of the hottest places to buy pro tools these days. And it’s not just because Amazon is fast and simple. Extensive user reviews get the word out on the best tools in each category, making it easy to buy intelligently. And it doesn’t hurt that Amazon prices are about as cheap as you can get.
“I never thought online sales of tools would take off, since people want to touch and try their tools first,” says Karl Bach, owner of Prestige Custom Homes in Mississauga. “But I recently made some purchases on Amazon for the only reason that the price was a lot lower than the big box stores. I think places like these will start seeing major competition from online retailers. You try to support local stores to keep jobs, but the prices online can be much lower.”
“Our success in selling tools with Amazon.ca has grown year over year and it’s proving to be a great advantage for us in the world of e-commerce,” says Robert Eddy, e-commerce manager with Stanley Black + Decker Canada. “We offer a great selection of most of our brands which include Black + Decker, Dewalt, Porter Cable, Bostitch, and more. We expect to add more variety and see growth continue in the years to come. Pros are using Amazon to save time by having tools delivered right to the jobsite.”
The interesting thing is, online shopping doesn’t necessarily need to eliminate local jobs. In fact, the online option can work directly with the most local of materials and supplies for the trades. Something called RenoRun (www.renorun.ca) is a case in point. It’s the mission of Canadian entrepreneur Eamonn O’Rourke and it’s taking off fast. Think of it like the Amazon of building materials. Actually, it’s much faster than Amazon even though it deals with stuff you can’t always tape up in a box.
Download the RenoRun phone app, choose whatever building materials you need from the 50,000 options on the drop-down menus then hit the button. You get your stuff in two hours or less if you’re in any of the service areas covered. Cost for delivery is never any more than $65 and it saves you the hassle and expense of pulling someone off the job to go get supplies you need to keep working.
“We started developing RenoRun in 2015,” explains Eamonn, “and we launched our first location in Montreal in March 2017. Toronto came online in October 2017 and we’re currently looking at Calgary and Vancouver for our next Canadian locations. We’ll be extending the service to include several US cities later this year.”
Will Gonell is owner of Gonell Homes, an award-winning custom home and restoration contractor in the Greater Toronto Area. He’s also been a very satisfied RenoRun user since day one. “I always structure my jobs only with subs,” explains Will, “so the only people who could drive out to get materials are either me or my supervisor. Our time is too valuable for that, so when I saw an Instagram post about RenoRun back in the fall of 2017, I called them up. The owner came out personally to see me. That’s been the kind of high quality experience they’ve delivered throughout. The drivers are great and I have a lot of respect for RenoRun’s support side. I’m always calling them. The service has saved me tons of money and tons of time, and I’ve never had them take two hours to get to me. Even when I sent them to do a custom run in a nearby city, they got to me in less than two hours.”
Paul Sharples is a 31 year-old finish carpenter and painter from London, Ont. and he recently bought from an online supplier called Paint Supplies Direct (www.paintsuppliesdirect.ca). “I saw a couple of posts on social media that this company had shared and I decided to look at their website,” says Paul. “I never used to be a large online shopper as I enjoy the social aspect of shopping in local stores and businesses. But with kids and full-time work, my time has become limited. So for that reason I’ve started to venture into the online world and have found it extremely convenient. I’m able to do all of my shopping and ordering after business hours from home and still have the product within an extremely reasonable timeline.”
When Toronto inventor Norman Breakey created the paint roller in 1940, it took some painters years before they gave up their brushes for painting big, flat surfaces. These days there isn’t a professional painter anywhere who’d even dream that brushes are always better than a roller. It’s the same with online shopping.
The Internet is changing the world because it empowers individuals to do things faster, more easily and more directly. The building trades is one of hundreds of sectors being streamlined by online shopping that delivers better goods at cheaper prices and it’s hard to argue with that.
The Hidden Costs of “Analog” Buying
Driving to buy stuff is more expensive than it looks. According to the Canadian Automobile Association’s online driving cost calculator (www.caa.ca/car_costs), the total cost of running a late model half-ton is 69 cents per kilometre including fuel and all other costs. Take that 30 km round-trip detour to pick up supplies (easy to do), and that’s more than $20 in direct “delivery” costs, not including the money you’re not earning while driving a truck instead of pushing a roller or managing your team. You’re essentially operating a courier service when you pick up supplies on your own, and if you count the costs honestly you’ll find that you are the most costly delivery option out there.