Talk to an Expert
Talk to an Expert

Bradfords Building Merchant CEO David Young on Embracing Innovation with Dropshipping

3 min read


Bradfords Building Merchants is a well-established company with a rich history spanning over 250 years, Bradfords has witnessed significant changes in customer behaviour and the rise of e-commerce. They currently have around 46 branches across the Southwest of England and employ around 900 people and have a long-standing history of serving both trade and retail customers. 

In this interview, David Young, CEO of Bradfords Building Merchant, discusses the challenges and opportunities of the building industry in the digital age with Ed Bradley, CEO & Founder of Virtualstock. They explore how Bradfords has adapted to these shifts, the role of online sales in their business, the dynamic nature of customer behaviour and their future plans for e-commerce.

Adapting to Changing Customer Behaviour

David attributes much of the recent change in customer behaviour to technological advances and greeted access to information. "Customers, both trade and retail, are becoming much more demanding about the information they need, and we've had to adapt and change along with that."

The Impact of COVID-19 and the Rise of E-commerce

Reflecting on the COVID-19 pandemic, David acknowledges the profound impact it had on the industry. He notes, "Last time I was here, we were all in face masks, and it was the height of COVID. That brought with it a lot of change in the industry." The pandemic accelerated the adoption of e-commerce, prompting more customers to turn to online channels for their purchases. Bradfords, having already invested in their website, experienced a surge in online sales. David shares, "Turnover increased dramatically... it's gone from a nice-to-have to a need-to-have."

The Role of Online Sales Alongside Brick-and-Mortar Stores

Despite the growth of online sales, David emphasises the continued importance of bricks-and-mortar stores for fostering personal relationships with customers. He asserts, "That face-to-face contact is what our customers want, and that's really why our bricks and mortar businesses exist." While online sales serve as a convenient option for retail customers, trade customers still value the personalised service and advice gained through in-person interactions.

Dropship and Expanding the Online Range

David recognises the value of dropshipping in expanding Bradfords' online range and enhancing customer satisfaction. He states, "Dropship's important to us... it's about 18% of our turnover." Dropshipping allows Bradfords to offer an extensive range of products beyond their physical branches, catering to a broader customer base. The partnership with Virtualstock has facilitated the expansion of their online offerings, with David citing the inclusion of 700 additional SKUs through their collaboration with one of their suppliers, Marshalls.

The Future of E-commerce for Bradfords

Looking ahead, David Young envisions a more significant role for e-commerce in Bradfords' business strategy. He expresses his goal to increase online sales to 50% of their turnover, saying, "If I just look at purely dropship, we're 25% of turnover at the moment. I really want that to move to 50 in time." This forward-thinking approach demonstrates Bradfords' commitment to leveraging technology and meeting evolving customer demands.

Watch the full video interview

Bradfords Building Merchant has successfully navigated the changing landscape of customer behaviour by embracing e-commerce and adapting its strategies accordingly. The insights shared by David Young highlight the company's commitment to meeting customer demands while maintaining a strong presence in brick-and-mortar stores. With a focus on leveraging technology and expanding their online range through dropshipping, Bradfords is well-positioned for future growth in the digital era.


Ready to sell more products online without the risk?