As long as there’s been a need to protect property and people, lock makers have sold their wares. Master Lock Co. LLC has been selling to businesses and consumers since 1921 in the United States and in 2008 it expanded into Europe with dedicated websites.
The company had customers in Germany, France and the Benelux Union countries of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, but to grow business on a large scale in each one required developing websites in those countries’ native languages, says Marti Gahlman, director of e-commerce.
“We enter markets slowly and grow the distributor base,” Gahlman says. “To reach a critical mass and really grow you have to offer a really robust website in the local language.”
Master Lock, which sells online at MasterLock.com, has used website translation technology from MotionPoint Corp. since 2008. The technology requires very little maintenance once in place for a specific country, Gahlman says, most of which is handled by his internal I.T. staff. It takes three to four months to get a website translated and the terminology validated, but once in place Master Lock can add new products and the system updates the new translations mostly on its own, he says.
Master Lock pays an initial set-up fee for a country’s site, based on the size of site and such factors as the number of words, then pays a monthly fee to MotionPoint for hosting the site and maintenance. Gahlman declines to disclose fees.
Master Lock expanded its dedicated global websites in the second half of 2017 to include Italy, Spain, Japan and China, bringing its total to nine. The websites sell locks and security products mainly to consumers in those countries, but businesses also access Master Lock’s services on the sites, Gahlman says. Services include finding lost combinations to locks and ordering new, customized services such as rekeying locks with new cylinders, changing combinations and laser marking.
The websites provide information and ordering capabilities to distributors, Master Lock customer service reps and local sales teams, corporate buyers and consumers.
Most of Master Lock’s products are sold through distributors and most of them place orders via EDI, or electronic data interchange, Gahlman says. The company has sold through EDI for 10-15 years, he says, particularly to larger distributors like W.W. Grainger Inc., No. 32 in the 2018 B2B E-Commerce 300, and Fastenal Co. (No. 57).
Though the websites mainly sell products to consumers and services to businesses, Master Lock is exploring ways to sell more through its websites. Roughly 45-50% of overall company sales currently are B2B, Gahlman says. He declined to say how much of that business is through e-commerce in some form, but notes the company is exploring how to get more sales through e-commerce websites—its own or its customers’. “We are looking very hard at it,” he says. “We’re not sure if more online sales will come from our website or from e-commerce sales of our commercial customers and distributors, and new customers like Amazon.com.”
Master Lock sells some products on Amazon.com, rather than through Amazon Business (No. 91), where companies typically buy and sell under contracted terms. “A lot of end users in B2B channels go to the ‘dot com’ site for one-off orders,” Gahlman adds.
Master Lock carries “multiple thousands” of SKUs, owing to its large made-to-order business, which can include schools that regularly update keying systems for lockers and other storage locations, as well as for businesses such as factories that keep tools behind locked doors, Gahlman says.
The company also provides information about fire and waterproof safes through its SentrySafe.com website. The site directs customers to retail websites, such as Target and Walmart. Master Lock sells a line of stronger locks, stock and custom, through its American Lock business unit. Those products are designed for outdoor use and are made of solid steel for commercial buildings and unattended property, solid brass, which resist moisture, for marine and other equipment; and solid aluminum, which is a less expensive alternative to brass.
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