The construction season in Sweden is well underway. SCA Timber Supply Skandinavien is now continuing its launch of the SmartTimber value enhancement concept, which includes a number of product innovations to meet demand for decking and cladding.
Supply Skandinavien's main focus this spring is to provide builders' merchant customers with better service.
"We've been in close dialogue with our customers and realised there's a need to support them, including in the sales process. They want us to provide written material that supports in-store sales. This is particularly important when new products are launched, so over the spring we've been conducting training with the builders' merchants that have chosen to take part in the SmartTimber concept," says Joakim Nehrer, Marketing Director at Supply Skandinavien.
The training courses have focused on issues like providing information about wood as a material, the functionality of products and added value, as well as how to handle complaints. In addition to the training, it has also been important to improve the information available in builders' merchants.
"Our customers have not had the necessary product information to explain clearly to end-users what makes one type of decking better than another. We've now developed clear, basic information about our products for both end-users and builders' merchants sales staff, making it easy to answer the questions that customers ask in store," says Joakim.
It might sound obvious, but until now there has not been much of this kind of material available for wood products.
"Compared with other builders' merchant products, the wood industry still has a lot to do. We've now made some progress on this and it's really appreciated by our customers," adds Joakim.
New innovative products
Supply Skandinavien has been working hard to develop new, innovative products, increase quality and provide better service, which are packaged together as SmartTimber.
"We want people to regard timber as a product and that products vary depending on the supplier. This is already happening in most other sectors but not for timber. It's our job to help our customers understand the difference between products so they can help end-customers select the right product for different purposes," says Joakim.
To achieve this, the first step is to identify needs and adapt the business to customer requirements.
"As part of that work, we've reviewed our work processes and procedures from a quality perspective. This has resulted in us being able to supply even better quality and more customised products in a way that saves time, both for builders' merchants and end-users," notes Joakim.
The concept is based on a customer commitment to supply goods at the right time and the right quality.
"We're now expanding our customer commitment with a number of new products that all provide significant added value. And we're also including clear product information about how the timber should be handled and assembled. The aim is for the best possible results when the products are used. We're seeing significant demand for SmartTimber products and at many builders' merchants end-users can find new products like heart wood pine decking, Royal decking and semi-finished cladding with concealed fitting," says Joakim.
So what's actually the difference between normal decking and the SmartTimber decking now being offered?
"We've realised there's a need for products other than standard products. Customers are increasingly looking for additional functionality. Decking no longer just needs to be standard decking. It also needs to look good, be durable and environmentally sustainable. All products included in the concept feature increased quality, allowing customers to choose based on the properties that are most important to them," explains Joakim.
Some of the products from Supply Skandinavien are initially included in the SmartTimber concept, but in the longer term the concept will encompass all products.
SmartTimber makes things easier for builders' merchants
"We've developed new packaging marked with clear information about lengths. This provides for simpler logistics in store and saves time. Our products have a clear premium stamp and are marked with a barcode, providing a high level of service and making life easier for end-users. Other features we're now offering include marking of shelf locations in stores and clear indication that these products have been specially developed by SCA."
In May, the general public in Sweden will also become aware of SmartTimber, with advertising in news and industry media, as well as on the back of buses, to spread the word about these products. There will be a particular focus on Norrland, but stores in other parts of Sweden will also receive new information material. A website, www.smarttimber.com, has also been launched, initially just in Swedish.
The website contains information about the SmartTimber concept and its different products. The website features a brand new design, with up-to-date content and easy navigation.
"The new website showcases our products in a completely new way, making it clearer for both builders' merchants and end-users what products we have and how they can be used for different purposes. We offer assembly instructions and maintenance advice, information on how to paint the products and how our different warranties work. Overall, this provides really good customer support," says Joakim.
The website will also provide inspiring examples of how solid-wood products can be used, and there's also an Instagram-based competition to highlight good examples.
"We want to receive photos from end-users who have bought our products showing what they've built. There's a real building boom in Sweden at the moment, so why not showcase these wonderful constructions and help inspire others to use different types of solid-wood product?" notes Joakim.
The website also provides basic information for end-users about how to find retailers that stock different products from Supply Skandinavien.
Optimera focuses on SmartTimber products
The SmartTimber concept is being launched this spring and one customer that has placed an order for 45 trucks' worth of decking products (heart wood pine decking, Royal decking and X-ray decking) is Optimera Sverige. The products will be available in stores from early April.
"We've previously had quality issues with various decking products and we've now decided to focus on Swedish products that we know work. SCA's products meet our customers' needs really well. They want a concept that works, with high-quality, durable products that are environmentally sustainable," says Steve Olsson, Purchasing Director at Optimera Sverige.
Optimera will have all products on display in stores so customers can see the products in a larger setting and they come with clear assembly instructions and maintenance advice.
"It's important for us that our customers have the right expectations of the products they buy. By understanding how a product works, what maintenance it requires and how it's assembled, you reduce the risk of problems and of them returning with complaints," explains Steve.
"The SmartTimber concept very much supports what we're trying to do and is completely in line with our aim to offer customers quality goods. Initially we're buying in SmartTimber decking products and plan to move forward gradually from there. It's really positive that such a major supplier like SCA is focusing on this and increasing its approach to quality," adds Steve Olsson from Optimera Sverige.