EKM helps trade merchants sell online

EKM, the Preston-based e-commerce platform provider, has formed a partnership with a national buying society to help its members launch their own online sales channels.

The firm is working with NMBS, which provides centralised purchasing, marketing and event activities for independent builders, plumbers, hardware and timber merchants.

The two first worked together on a project which helped merchants sell VELUX products online. The programme enabled members to fully benefit from the supplier discounts made available through an omnichannel offering.

After seeing the benefits that online sales could open up for its members, NMBS has now partnered with EKM to give its merchants a much wider offering.

Andy Hextall, commercial director at NMBS, said: “We know that a lot of our members already have websites, but few of them have e-commerce sites, and yet this is a sales channel that’s rapidly becoming more important in today’s world.

“Although we started this journey initially to help our members access incremental online sales and the additional discounts available from VELUX, we’ve now taken that a stage further and can offer all our members an easy way to start selling online – taking the fear out of what might seem like an incredibly daunting task for independent merchants."

Available as a ready-made platform, the EKM system offers a range of features and price points depending on the merchant’s requirements. EKM provides its services on a monthly subscription basis with no up-front costs.

A lot of our members already have websites, but few have e-commerce sites, yet this is a sales channel that’s rapidly becoming more important.

The company now helps its customers generate over half a billion pounds in sales per year.

Mark Gilbertson, EKM partner manager, said: “One of the barriers to getting online for many independent merchants is the time it takes to gather the content for the site – namely, the pictures and descriptions for what could be thousands of separate product SKUs (Stock Keeping Units).

"But NMBS and EKM are working hard to support merchants with this as well. NMBS worked closely with VELUX to create a database of all its core products in a standardised format that could be quickly and easily imported into the EKM platform using the inventory manager, and the buying society is now looking to review how they can expand this to other NMBS suppliers.”

The system accepts payments from a wide range of internationally recognised platforms including SagePay, WorldPay, Stripe and Paypal, as well as making debit and credit card payments possible.

  • For further Lancashire business news, advice and analysis subscribe to Lancashire Business View or join the LBV Hub from just £2.50 per month. Click here to subscribe now.