Finding construction products online: how do we make it easier?


In this video, social strategist Su Butcher talks to architect Matt Franklin of mbf DESIGN about how he used to find a balustrade product for a specific project:

Finding construction products online can be a challenge for architects. There is certainly no shortage of information: trawling Google for the most common building product phrases will return massive amounts of data. But the chances are you will end up with a trawl-full of irrelevant information mixed in with the things you were actually looking for, and sifting through it all can be incredibly time-consuming.

Add to that the fact that manufacturers’ own websites range in quality and structure from the excellent to the downright appalling, and that you have to keep navigating backwards and forwards between websites in an attempt to compare similar products side-by-side.

Whilst it’s good to have a variety to choose from, sometimes all you want is to arrive quickly at a sensible shortlist of relevant products. Too much choice, and information presented in non-standard ways, can be a hindrance. So how do we take the pain out of construction product searches?

A dedicated website can make this process so much easier. You can search, compare and select products using filters that are specific to that product type. You can contact multiple manufacturers in one go, asking for quotes or further information. You can save products into project folders and share them with your team.

Why not register for free with and use the site as a handy tool next time you set out to trawl for construction products?

I’d love to hear about how you usually search for building products online. How does it work for you? What do you find frustrating? How could it be made easier? Comment on this blog, or join the discussion on Twitter (hashtag #ESIinfoTV)!

If you’re a manufacturer or supplier of construction products and you want to get listed on, follow this link or give us a ring on 01786 407000!


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7 Responses to “Finding construction products online: how do we make it easier?”

  1. Pritesh Patel (@priteshpatel9) Says:

    Excellent video!

    Firstly, this video has highlighted the importance of image optimisation and how influential it is to have the right image displayed – the key point which stuck out for me was where Matt said ’domestic’ so instantly he was looking for the product in a domestic situation. Very interesting indeed.

    Secondly, there’s a part in the video where the product you were after was located on the manufacturers website, not on ESI. I’m interested to know if you would be more inclined to re-do the search on ESI until you found what you were after or to actually go investigate further on the actual manufacturers website?

    I think from a manufacturers POV – they need to understand the relationship between the ESI website and their own website and how each fits into the Architects/Specifiers journey.

    Looking forward to the next video peeps!!

    • mbfranklin Says:

      Thanks for the great comments.

      The reason we went to the website was to check that the supplier did steel wire, as the results from the ESI site suggested this.

      When I have a few results I like the look of I would always go direct to the supplier either by phone, email or web depending on the nature of my enquiry and the informaiton I had found on it.

      I would only re-do a search when I didn’t waht I was looking for.

      This picks up on what Su says below, the more informaiton the supplier puts on the site the better as it’s great to know what a supplier can or can’t do.

  2. Benedikte Ranum Says:

    Thanks for commenting, Pritesh! Absolutely agree – there should be synergy between the manufacturers/suppliers’ websites and the content they put on

    Best thing is if the content on the different sites complement each other and make the selection process as easy as possible for the specifier. (We host regular webinars where we advise clients on how best to do this.)

    There’s a lot we (information publishers and product manufacturers alike) can learn about specifiers’ preferences, needs and search behaviour. I think these video interviews are a good place to start!

  3. Pritesh Patel (@priteshpatel9) Says:

    Thanks B!

    A topic I would like to see covered is ‘how the search results work’. Having just done a search for ‘drainage pipes’ I get a few Polypipe products followed by some Hepworth, ACO etc – Klargester are on page 2, now if I worked for Klargester is there anything I could do to get my product on to page 1 of the search results as I can’t see many Specifiers going further than page 2 or 3 perhaps.

    A client of mine is last in the search results (page 2 of 2)…..I need to move this up to page 1 to increase visibility and click throughs. Is it possible?

    • Benedikte Ranum Says:

      My colleague Mark (who is our in-house expert on all things related to the search functionality on is putting together a precis for me, Pritesh, so that I can answer your questions properly! 🙂

    • subutcher Says:

      Hi Pritesh,
      from a specifier’s point of view (which is what will lead to your product being chosen) I’d say that your client needs to make more information about their products more visible, so that the specifier can choose the right product for their purpose.

      Let’s take your example with a search for ‘drainage pipes’; there are the immediate options of

      Underground drainage pipes
      Soil and Waste systems, and

      If the product you were looking for was for underground drainage, for example, you can choose this, and then filter by product profile or manufacturers/suppliers. allows the manufacturers or suppliers to create categories that are most appropriate for their products – if you like, they ‘crowd source’ the filters. So, for example with the underground drainage pipes you can immediately filter down the products by

      Suitability (e.g. foul water, surface water, or highway drainage)
      Material (PVC-U or Clay, or Polyproylene or Polyethyline
      Product Accreditation (BBA certified, BS EN 295-1:1991, BS65:1991 etc, or
      Brand (Hepworth, Marley, OSMA, Polypipe etc)

      What’s great about this system is that the supplier/mfr can identify what applications and/or benefits their products have, and the user only has to pick what they care about. So if you don’t care about the material but do care about the British Standard, you can quickly find out what’s in the system.

      Speed is of the essence here, speed and accuracy. Much of our time looking for products online is spent looking at products that turn out not to be suitable (or they don’t exist on the website at all!) Getting to the top in a search in this case is not helpful.

      If your client takes the key data about their product relevant to their prospects, and puts it in the system, then architects, technicians etc can self-select themselves as pre-qualified prospects, if you like.

      Hope that makes sense!

  4. esidigital Says:

    Reblogged this on esidigitalmarketing and commented:
    How maximising your product images helps architects shortlist your products?

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