Posted by: Diane Capuano
Much discussion has been generated by the Feb. 1 launch of Benjamin Moore’s new e-commerce initiative, whereby the Montvale, N.J., company is selling several of its paint products online and delivering them direct to consumers from its website. In response to press inquiries (including that of PDRA’s Paint & Decorating Retailer magazine), Benjamin Moore’s has issued the following statement, which is attributed to Ed Klein, the company’s vice president of retail & market development:
“Benjamin Moore announced February 1st that it had entered the world of e-commerce, selling select patented waterborne Gennex paints online, a decision that caught some of our retailers by surprise. We underestimated the reaction from many of our retailers, since our entry into e-commerce was referenced by Denis Abrams, our Chairman and CEO, in his 2009 year end-video address to our retailers. And, prior to our online store going live, a letter advising our retailers of this action was posted on Benjamin Moore’s retailer portal.
“In hindsight, we realize that our e-commerce plan and the strategy behind it were not communicated thoroughly to our retailers. To address this, Denis Abrams filmed another message that was made available for them to view on the retailer portal on Monday, February 8th. In this video, he
Benjamin Moore’s vision of e-commerce and the future role our retailers would play.
“Denis Abrams, Eugene Andreassi, myself, and other Benjamin Moore executives have spoken with dozens of retailers on the phone, sharing with them the long term strategy for our e-commerce initiative and ensuring them that Benjamin Moore’s 126 years of commitment to the independent paint and decorating retail channel remains unchanged.
“Additionally, our entire management team has been personally meeting with retailers
, engaging them in direct dialogue on this subject answering their questions and concerns, and more fully informing them about the vision and strategy that led to Benjamin Moore launching this new generation channel of distribution to consumers. In 74 scheduled events across North America that are nearly concluded, we have been presenting our 2010 Business Plan to our loyal and trusted retailers and contractors, and e-commerce is one of the many topics we are openly communicating.
“Much of my statement echoes what Denis Abrams discusses in his video address to our retailers.
“First of all, our decision to enter e-commerce was based on our desire to explore, understand and then leverage any mutual business opportunities it offers both the company and our network of retailers. We are making a long-term commitment to this endeavor and plan integration of our retailers once we better understand and get a read on the sales demand it represents.
“Selling paint online is uncharted territory for us all, yet already we’ve learned some tweaks to the program are needed and, in fact, they’ve been made. Among them, we are fast-tracking a new retailer locator so that upon entering the e-commerce store every visitor will be offered the location of their nearest Gennex retailer and encouraged to go to that location for the best advice, color consultation and personal service.
“From its very beginning in 1883, Benjamin Moore has been unwavering in its commitment to the independent retailer as its selling channel, and our belief that this is the preferred shopping experience to that of the big box chains is as strong as ever. However, we cannot afford to ignore the potential growth opportunity of online sales. With over 700,000 hits a month, benjaminmoore.com is the paint industry’s leading Web site. That’s over 8 million people a year who could conceivably buy our products — a huge opportunity for the company, together with our retailers, to seize upon
. Our e-commerce shop is meant to help capture the attention and interest of these Web visitors as they begin to consider a purchase.
“Finally, our ultimate vision for e-commerce is a powerful site with multiple fulfillment options that will fully involve our retail partners. They are an integral part of the big-picture if this approach is to be successful. Today, no one sells paint online effectively, but Benjamin Moore has set a defining goal to dominate this new channel. And, just as we have succeeded in pioneering the industry on product innovations that give our retailers a competitive edge, we are confident this is our next frontier and challenge, and we are driven to succeed once more.”