In a packed and often noisy large room at Do it Best Corp.’s Fort Wayne, IN, headquarters, a team of market analysts and buyers of merchandise and commodities constantly gathers and shares the latest information on the market prices of lumber, drywall and other construction materials its member stores need to carry.

“It’s like an old trading floor, and at times they’re yelling stuff,” says Brandon Wolf, the company’s e-commerce manager. The team is often on edge, he says, because it’s their job to ensure that the owners of Do it Best stores—each of whom is a partial owner of the company, which operates as a buying cooperative for a chain of some 3,800 stores worldwide—get the best pricing deals when purchasing the materials they sell to building contractors and consumers in their stores or online.

Market pricing fluctuates daily, and a good price may be available only for hours or even just minutes. So the company’s buyers are pressured to act quickly on purchasing what can be large quantities of lumber or other materials, “or they get held accountable, because it’s our owners that will suffer” if they miss an opportunity to buy much-needed materials at an attractive price.

Before placing many orders, however, Do it Best’s team of corporate buyers will attempt to contact as many store owners as possible to check the chain-wide demand. “We don’t want to buy inventory we can’t sell,” Wolf says.

But getting hold of store owners by the traditional methods, such as by phone or e-mail, is often difficult, even impossible, because they are usually out and about, helping customers, checking on inventory, and doing whatever it takes to keep their stores operating and ringing up sales. “We’d have a team of 40 people trying to call more than 2,000 store owners,” Wolf says.


Sending out mass e-mails wasn’t effective either, partly because it simply takes too long to format e-mail messages with headings and formats suitable for each of several e-mail networks, he adds.

A better option, the company learned, is using an SMS or text-messaging or system, which Do it Best deployed earlier this year as part of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud software suite from Inc. Rather than having to format e-mail messages or track down each store owner by phone, Do it Best now can quickly send a mass text message to instantly reach owners wherever they are, and confirm their interest in a materials purchase in time to place the order and lock in the low price. “It results in less guesswork for us when deciding what to order,” Wolf says.

“We’re finding that store owners open text messages more quickly than e-mail or phone messages,” he says. As a result, Do it Best’s team of buyers can now decide on making crucial purchases in minutes or even seconds instead of hours or days, he adds.

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