What if you don't have a smartphone with Internet on it for ordering supplies? There is another way.
There's a tendency for online ordering to supplant phone ordering, but cabling supplier 4Cabling has recognised that not all tradies use smartphones and has introduced an SMS ordering service that we think could be useful in other contexts.
The way the system works is that customers send their name, business name and order to a free text number. The company then calls back to confirm the details and arrange delivery.
"Text to order is particularly helpful for customers who are onsite and need the order quickly," says 4Cabling managing director Nicole Kersh. "It's also designed for those who know what they want and don't want to spend the time browsing for it online." We're inclined to agree.
This approach is free for you, in the sense there are no data or phone charges. We also wonder if other companies that supply various trade customers with relatively simple orders such as "eight cubic metres of crushed bluestone" or "18 metres of 12.7 x 0.91mm annealed copper tube" could start trying something similar.
It's a relatively low-tech approach and so it can be implemented more quickly and cheaply than a web store, and we imagine there can't be many tradies that don't carry a mobile phone.
We imagine the trick is to make sure you have a system that calls the customer promptly and reliably. That's relatively easy if you have anything resembling a call centre, but if these orders are going to be handled by counter or office staff then you'd need to make sure none of the orders fall through the cracks.