The Granite Group (TGG), a family-owned and -operated plumbing, heating, cooling, propane and PVF wholesale distributor based out of New England, announced the launch of its “My Granite Access” mobile app. The company, ranked as No. 35 in The Wholesaler Magazine’s Top 100 Distributors of 2019, has nearly 600 employees, with 15 showrooms and 45 total locations around New England.
“The app provides on-device access to The Granite Group’s existing digital services, from alike ecommerce, product information, events, promotions and more. It provides our customers a user-friendly and fully immersed mobile experience,” notes Coburn Flannery, The Granite Group’s director of e-business.
The distributor created the app to provide its customers 24/7 access — and ease in doing business. While the e-commerce site is available on a desktop, there is a large segment of The Granite Group’s customers who are mobile users.
“Our mobile users are just that, mobile. They are in their trucks, on the job and need to know what’s in stock and where they can go to pick it up,” Flannery explains. He adds that the demographic of the mobile user is in the 35 to 55+ age range. About 20 percent of its customers using the digital channel come from the mobile app.
The development for the app was quick — from spec to deliverable took a couple of months. TGG partnered with a company that provided the framework to integrate its existing capabilities through the mobile application. Users must be a Granite Group customer and have a My Granite Access/Online Store username and password to use the new mobile app.
I asked Flannery what the company had learned about its business in the process of development of the app. “It was interesting — we had to learn to look at our business through the lens of being mobile,” he says. “How are we delivering information in a way that can be accessed with a thumb? That may sound weird, but think of how you browse on a computer and how you browse on your phone.”
What the distributor learned in the process about its customer needs was interesting. “Our customers needed an app,” Flannery says. “Our ecommerce and websites have been mobile responsive since the start; they work as well on a phone as a computer. But our customers wanted an app for how mobile they are — one place to go for everything The Granite Group.”
Customers enjoy the special features in the app that help them save time Many of its customers manage their businesses from an office but work out of trucks and on the jobsite. “The app has given our customers access to information at their fingertips,” he says.
Features such as scanning are ideal for its customers. “We can barcode our customers’ stockrooms, and they use the scanning feature to reorder items by walking their aisles and scanning,“ he notes. Some customers are using the scanning feature in TGG’s branches as well. “It’s very efficient for our staff when a customer walks up to the counter with material already on order,” he adds. “We just have to verify quantity and ship it.”
Other features built into the app are:
The App Evolution
“The feedback we have received from our customers has been great.” Flannery notes. “They appreciate that we listened to their requests to develop an app that fits in with their needs.”
Bill Condron, The Granite Group’s president and CEO, agrees: “They view us as a partner who is making the investments to continue to evolve and improve both our communication and overall service with them moving forward.” Flannery adds: “It’s a way TGG is supporting our customers — by being accessible wherever they are.”
Future development of the app will allow for ease in notifying customers of information — literally in the palm of their hands. Features in the works are offline scanning and storing products, which will be submitted once the customer is back online. Also, GPS location for TGG’s trucks will be enabled on the app, allowing customers to check where delivery trucks are located for real-time delivery tracking.
While the advantage to the customer is easy to see, the advantage to the company is two-fold.
“It provides a needed resource for our customers to continue to interact with us in an increasingly mobile-first environment,” Condron explains. “It also improves service levels in our branches in a big way. We take our extremely knowledgeable and service-oriented team members and free them up to be problem-solvers as opposed to just order-takers. By moving the transaction into the app, our people are more available to really provide value to their customers.”
Having a presence always within eyesight of its customers is crucial. “A mobile phone is the one item everyone has,” Flannery says.
Building this ease of doing business and connecting helps the company fulfill its motto: “Our people are our strength. We create strong relationships with our customers and manufacturers to deliver the best brands and services in order to exceed expectations.”