23 Jun 2022

Tools Talk: The Benefits of Using Online Trade Merchants

Steve Davidson, Marketing Manager at U-PRO, a growing online retailer of trade tools and supplies, explains why buying tools online is a wise choice for the nation’s self-builders embarking on a lifelong goal of building their dream home. Steve describes the advantages of buying supplies online and the range of benefits online merchants can provide.


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Self-build developments and home improvements have become increasingly popular in the last decade, a trend that was accelerated by the COVID pandemic and stay-at-home restrictions. For many people, it became clear that if they were going to stay at home, then they would need to change their property to better suit their needs. In fact, the latest Government figures show that nearly a quarter of a million homeowners in England were granted planning permission to change, convert or extend their homes from January to September 2021.

This is a trend that seems to be here to stay since the recent five-year VAT reprieve for sustainable home renovations on aspects such as insulation, solar panels and heat pumps. This will undoubtedly encourage more people to self-build anything from extensions and conversions to refurbishments and more.

With a regulatory landscape ripe for self-build projects and a desire to create more bespoke, energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly homes with more outdoor space, contemporary homebuilding has never been so appealing.

The self-build journey

At the start of a project, it makes sense to work with an architect or interior designer to decide and layout exactly how you want your home to look. Working with a local builders’ merchant is the next big decision. And it’s a decision that should not be taken lightly.

Finding a reliable merchant

where you can buy large building supplies, such as concrete, timber frames, plasterboards and roofing, will help you stick to your timings and ensure you don’t exceed your budget. Many builders’ merchants offer memberships that will enable you to save money on items purchased, and many can offer good discounts when you’re buying high-cost items in bulk. The best merchants will provide you with information, helping you choose the right products, work out quantities and give you indicative lead times.

Buying online – benefits to self-builders

The first fix – everything that happens between laying down your foundations and finishing your plastering – is a major build stage of any self-build or renovation, a fundamental part of the process.

At this point, self-builders aren’t necessarily thinking about the smaller, more day-to-day tools and supplies required for any self-build project, both great and small. These can include tools such as sanders, paintbrushes, adhesives, screwdrivers, sealants, safety wear and cleaning materials. Such items play a critical role in the development and delivery of any self-build, and homeowners need to be aware of their options. They could source day-to-day tools from the builders’ merchant they’ve chosen; however, it’s likely to be more cost-effective and convenient to buy these everyday items online.

Online trade retailers often stock a wider and more diverse range of day-to-day tools and materials that you may require during your self-build project. The cost savings should also be considered; for example, some online retailers provide a subscribe-and-save option where you can place repeat orders of everyday materials and save some money by doing so. What’s more, online trade retailers offer various exclusive discounts, whether that’s free delivery or money off popular products for a set period of time.

Another key advantage of online retailers is the flexibility they can provide when it comes to delivery. During a self-build project, one of the most time-draining inconveniences is when you run out of something or need a slightly different-sized tool or tape – which often means heading to the nearest DIY store to purchase what you’re missing. This can be avoided by heading online and choosing what you need with fast and efficient delivery to your doorstep.

Expert advice and support

Often, we instinctively feel the need to visit a physical store to get expert advice on the tools we need to do the job at hand, which is why you will find many self-builders at their local trade store trying to get the attention of a retail assistant. Online shopping removes the inconvenience of going into a store and trying to find the right store assistant to answer your specific questions.

With many online retailers, there’s a specialist customer service team readily available who can tell you everything about the products available and whether they’re appropriate for the job you need to do. As the customer service team has oversight of the full range of stock that an online retailer provides, they are better placed to suggest alternatives or even a more suitable tool or material that will help you carry out what you need to do effectively.

A better price all year round

When you purchase online, you will, more than likely, benefit from better prices too. Online stores don’t have the same costs as physical stores, which means that you will be able to browse from a bigger selection of products at a smaller price.

Membership offers

Just like bricks and mortar stores that offer loyalty schemes, online retailers do too. And they’re not to be underestimated. By becoming a member or opening an account with an online trade retailer, self-builders can gain access to a wide range of enhanced benefits including tool and supplies insurance (a must, given the task in hand and how many different tools you will use weekly), regular discounts and cashback with every purchase.

So, the next time you need a specific type of paintbrush, wrench, hammer or masking tape, why not consider visiting a fast, reliable and trustworthy online retailer before you head out of the door for the umpteenth time to pick up the tools or supplies you need?

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