Be afraid of the technology monster you can’t see
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“Hi, I’m Matt. I’m building amazing software for the lumber and building materials industry.”
I’d rank that opening sentence as one of the least likely to earn a second meeting in the LBM industry. The other person can’t get off the phone fast enough. I might as well be a scary monster with horns, sharp teeth and six eyes.
Sometimes I get a favorable response. Enough of these favorable responses exposed a trend by company size and type, as represented in this six box matrix:
I was surprised at first, but after meeting with so many wholesalers, it made sense. Small wholesalers are entrepreneurs, first and foremost. Wholesale traders, the individual people, are the fuel that powers their entrepreneurial trading machine.
When people hear about something new, they try to match it to something they already know.
Early human example: An animal with scales and sharp teeth is pattern-matched to a predator! Pattern-matching is about survival!
Digital marketplace example: Yesler is an online marketplace, therefore, the same as dot-com bubble lumber trading failures, Mickey, MaterialsXchange, Silvaris, or another digital version of a wholesale trader. Pattern-matching leads to misunderstanding! Yesler is fundamentally different, so we have extra work to do in our opening pitch.
Our pitch is to all traders, whether you sell from a mill or wholesaler, or whether you buy for wholesale or a lumber yard.
“Yesler is a digital platform for you (the trader) to create your own digital marketplace for your products and trading partners.”
Let’s break this down:
Digital platform: Yesler is a platform built for the trader, not to replace the trader.
You (the trader): If you sell, buy, or both – Yesler has tools on the platform for you.
Your own digital marketplace: As a seller, create your own personal digital storefront on Yesler that represents you, your products, your market knowledge, and your value. You can list loads publicly, or privately merchandise loads to specific buyers. As a buyer, you compare offers and negotiate with suppliers on your dashboard – one space for all suppliers.
Your products and trading partners: You choose when to make your product offers public or private. You choose whom to invite to quote your requested loads when you buy. You invite your trading partners, and they remain your contacts. Your contacts aren’t shared with others by Yesler.
The monster you don’t see
You’ve heard the tale of the buggy whip manufacturers who woke-up one day to realize everyone was driving cars. Barnes and Noble watched while Amazon took book-selling online, now Amazon dominates book-selling and a whole lot more. Did Microsoft and Walmart see Amazon coming?
Big companies in our industry are spending millions on IT to build their own tech to corner customers or drive all suppliers to their sites. Let’s fill in a few blanks for comparison.
You are a wholesaler. Which is scarier: Yesler’s platform built for you? Or others investing millions to corner your customers on their online portal?
You are a lumber buyer at a lumber yard. Which is scarier: Yesler’s platform where you bring all suppliers to you in one place? Or a different login or tech platform for each quote from each supplier?
You are a trader. Which is scarier? Yesler empowering you to digitize your trading, or somebody else digitizing you out of the trade?
Technology will transform LBM. Yesler gives the individual trader, the entrepreneurs and their companies, agency in that transformation. Is Yesler the scary monster? Or is Yesler your superpower that will keep the real scary monsters from eating you?