Builders' Merchants News
Best-supported merchant
Published:  06 January, 2014

The adhesives and sealants category offers some great opportunities for sales growth, says Nathalie Rogue, category manager at Bostik. Here, she discusses how manufacturers can best support merchants and boost business.

It is important that adhesive and sealant suppliers take a full, category-based approach when supporting merchant partners. The process of making sure they offer an effective range of products should also be backed by research and understanding on consumer demand, and counter staff need to be supported in building product knowledge to help make more informed, effective sales.

When identifying trends in consumer demand, an important area for merchants to consider for adhesives and sealants is specialised performance. With continued pressures on deadlines and budgets, we’re seeing that using a reliable, specialised product to get a job right first time, avoiding return visits and remedial work, is becoming a priority for the trade.

Going solvent-free

This filters down to a few key areas when deciding which adhesives and sealants to stock. While, in the past, it was believed that solvent-free products lacked the performance of traditional alternatives, the introduction of new formulas has meant they are now at least the equivalent of solvented products, and in a number of cases outperform them.

For example, solvent-free grab adhesives offer reduced curing times, making them suitable for fixing skirting boards and dado rails, etc. They can also be used with polystyrene products such as ceiling roses, which can be damaged by solvents. The same can be said for sealants. There has been an increase in the use of solvent-free all-weather sealants because the perception is they now more than match up to traditional alternatives. They can offer other advantages such as reduced shrinkage, better performance in a greater range of temperatures and a lack of the fumes often associated with solvented products. This is particularly useful for in high-traffic areas, or on jobs where a quick turnaround of work is required, such as in shop fitting.

Another area to consider is the wide range of solvent-free SMP (also known as MS polymer) products available. All offer different performance benefits, with a popular option being combined all-in-one adhesive and sealant products. These are certainly convenient to use, but it’s important to remember that premium products developed for specific tasks can offer better usability and performance. Formulas often work best when they are designed for either strength – ideal for adhesives, or flexibility – ideal for sealants. When the two are combined, this can create a compromise and potentially result in a reduction of both properties. Therefore, when looking to stock a range that caters for specialised performance, it’s best to stock a selection of SMP products that offer the right formula for common adhesive and sealant tasks.

Understanding how products stocked are used in common applications is also key. After examining a number of its products in use, Bostik developed a pouch system for grab adhesives that removes the need to cut a nozzle or use a cartridge gun. All that’s required is to remove the reusable cap and squeeze to apply. We think this will complement existing grab adhesive products, and is especially useful for DIY customers looking for a simple, quality solution.

As a manufacturer, it’s crucial we support our merchant partners in making sure counter staff have a complete understanding of product ranges. We have worked with a number of merchants to put in place ‘training champions’ – members of staff nominated to spend time at our training centre to learn about product performance, and the latest developments and research in the adhesives and sealants category. In turn, we then encourage these training champions to pass all they have learned on to others in their organisation so that all branches benefit.

In our experience, this format works well for merchants as it minimises the time staff need to spend out-of-branch in training, but also maximises in-house knowledge of the category, boosting sales.

This article first appeared in the October 2013 issue of Builders' Merchants News.