Case Studies

TradeNet delivers additional value in a competitive market

The National Building Suppliers Group (“Natbuild”) has been in operation for 30 years, owned by leading Independent Building Supplies merchants across Australia. By focusing on delivering additional value to it’s members, who are the owners, Natbuild ensures it’s members are able to compete and grow in the marketplace; acting collectively, yet executing locally.

Boasting 39 members and more than 200 trading locations, Natbuild supports $800M of members purchases, representing over 50% of members total purchases. Peter Way, CEO, explains “Support for us is all about gathering and presenting reliable information along with managing trading agreements with aligned suppliers that provide Members and suppliers secure results that are financially beneficial to all parties”.

“The group has developed and refined our processes through the TradeNet and Deal & Rebate Management (DRM) platforms ensuring we deliver what our members both want and need – information that is; timely, accurate, reliable, and consistent.  Along with various information, the Group manages and distributes significant rebate income generated from the group’s collective purchases against negotiated trading agreements. It is systems that allow us to do this best”.

The Challenge

A strategic review of operations in 2015 highlighted the need to improve key functions, processes, and the systems used at the time, to deliver required outcomes for 28 Members managing just under $400M in purchases. Aiming to grow, it was obvious changes were needed to enhance the value proposition by building out the overall service and support offer through tailored and specific solutions built for the construction supply industry but also for what Natbuild’s core business was, a buying group. The tools Natbuild had available would not have allowed this to happen.

With a clear set of requirements following the review, an investigation on software providers indicated options were available, but no package met all the criteria required. Several software packages were required, with further modifications (and expense), to achieve an outcome that met the brief.  In the end, the decision was made to work on the development of a single solution, built internally at Natbuild, that addressed several key areas:

  • Security with permissions at the user, location and company level – delivering information to the right people
  • One source of truth – add information once and make various components available, as needed, to intended users
  • Built in online environment, no software to be installed, available 24/7
  • System must be easy to use, as well as accommodate and deliver:
    • One Log in to One System
    • Electronic and manageable deals and rebates
    • Product information and pricing – accommodate multiple product variations and pricing by location
    • Results need to be achieved to the lowest level. i.e., Product Data: by member, by location, by product
    • News and communications – the right information to the right people
    • Information delivery on demand – tailorable to user: “what I want, when I want it”
    • Platform to deliver other key service offerings: Learn, Connect and Act, other Admin Tools – delivered through the same ecosystem, not attached as separate offers or software
  • Embrace user feedback and work to develop what people want and will use.
The Solution

Today, the TradeNet and DRM suite Natbuild adopted is a rounded online software package that has addressed and delivered on all key areas identified essential for the group having considered at all stages:

  • Members and supplier’s input
  • Consideration and refinement with the user involved and in mind
  • Scalability by working with member or supplier, irrespective of size or numbers of users
  • Cost management with an ability to scale, adding new members and users at no real additional cost.

Peter continues, “Working on the development of modules to meet user’s needs, has allowed us to fine tune and build a workable and robust solution. This has led to a high user uptake along with a high degree of confidence for users that information and details, necessary to make decisions, is available and at hand in an environment that makes sense.”

“The team at TradeNet Solutions understand how a buying group works, what we need and what we don’t. Many developers believe that we are easy to understand and therefore deliver solutions however it isn’t that simple, and that knowledge is critical and unique. There are many elements to consider in the ecosystem of a buying group, bringing this all together under one solution, the major value proposition presented here, sees this stand out from anything else in the market.”

“While the system and all modules have been developed to address needs for our group, we know that to grow we need to continue to review, understand, enhance, or redevelop, and then deploy these improvements in our operations. Craig and his team welcome feedback and work with us in a collaborative manner to meet objectives.”


Adopting the TradeNet platform has led to major improvements in the Natbuild processes and overall deliverables for the Group, drawing both members and suppliers into an ecosystem they can trust, easily use, and rely on to enhance relationships, all in one place.

Both members and suppliers use the system, ensuring that communication of key items is known by the right people in the right timeframes. Communication and knowledge transfer are important to the wellbeing of a buying group and TradeNet has played a crucial role in achieving far higher results from health checks or surveys of the Natbuild users.

“The growth we have achieved as a group is in part to the way we interact and can both onboard new partners and users, as well as engage them longer term into the day-to-day operations of the Group. With no measurable additional cost in our head office function, we have been able to grow from 28 to 39 Members as well as managing rebates on over $800M of purchases which is double our results from 2015.”, Peter explains.

“Further to the growth in headline numbers we have been able to secure and manage several unique and growth-oriented rebate structures that have allowed us to challenge all participants, driving behaviours and achieve outcomes.  We have added almost 2% growth on total rebate income for the group in the past 3 years. We would not have been able to manage this if we did not have the systems we have.

Having the partnership with TradeNet Solutions ensures:

  • We have a software provider that understands buying groups and our needs
  • Fixed cost for our business with a ‘Single System’ to manage Deal and Rebates as well as all other information communication. One monthly cost we work with.
  • We can add more Members, Suppliers and their users and we know the costs stay the same
  • Development will continue through the input of other like-minded buying groups which will see the suite continue to improve

History for Natbuild sees TradeNet Solution with an up-time nearing 100%. We can count on it and promote this fact; our members and suppliers know information and details are available from a reliable source.”

Critical communications with Members: TradeNet Solutions enables an automated user preference communications platform with Plumbing Plus

Over the past 40 years, Plumbing Plus has grown into the largest member based buying group for plumbing supplies in Australia. With a combined total of 320 stores supported by Plumbing Plus, achieved through organic growth and mergers of like-minded organisations, Plumbing Plus is currently the leader of their field. This impressive growth has been attained by providing uncompromising support to members and moving in lockstep with technology to ensure the best user experience available in the market.

In 2021, Plumbing Plus decided to take the next step in enhancing their member platform offering to streamline communications while improving transparency for all stakeholders. This was enabled through a partnership with TradeNet Solutions, whose first step was to provide:

  • News and Communications
  • Resource Management
  • Customer Relationship Management
  • User defined communication preferences
The Challenge

With the outstanding growth that Plumbing Plus had enjoyed in previous years, this had also brought forth the challenge of how to manage communications with multiple brands, locations and suppliers through a Software as a Service platform. However, this was only the first layer of the issues being felt through unprecedented growth and the recent merger with the Plumbtec, requiring a more efficient way of managing the increasing numbers of trading partner agreements and rebates being centrally negotiated and managed. Due to the increasing lockdowns caused by COVID-19, Plumbing Plus also actively sought a more remote-friendly option for providing members and suppliers a delivery method to promote and provide education. This included their products, promotions, and internal training through an electronic learning platform, conveniently contained in a single, easy to use system.

The Solution

TradeNet Solutions, already a proven performer over the past 7 years with Natbuild, presented Plumbing Plus a single-sign-on platform with optional and interchangeable modules that can be implemented as required. TradeNet worked closely with Plumbing Plus during the first phase of implementation to understand the issues, develop a communications plan and optimise the roll out schedule to allow Plumbing Plus to operate with minimal disruption. With the successful implementation of phase one, early 2022 saw the launch of TradeNet Learn, providing a centralised learning platform for members and suppliers. The Deal & Rebate Management module is scheduled to be launched by Plumbing Plus in F23, rounding out all key buying group activities in a single, secure and easy to use SaaS platform.


Plumbing Plus has already seen major improvements in communications with members by being able to deliver the following:

  • Aggregated communications in a single point for members and suppliers to consume on their terms
  • Transparency across the group for the latest engagements for the group at various access levels, managed individually and at the buying group level
  • Streamlined communications management
  • Consistent training delivery in a centralised platform for sales, human resources, internal training, and promotional activities
  • Strategic roadmap for further functionality as required by Plumbing Plus
  • Ongoing R&D in consultation with Plumbing Plus and TradeNet to enable flexibility to manage unique Buying Group challenges

“For Plumbing Plus” summed up Tony Hurd, CEO “choosing TradeNet as our communications and deal and rebate management system was a great decision”.

“We’ve enjoyed the way that they have supported us as we’ve grown, and know they will continue to do so. The system is easy to use, innovative and above all, TradeNet helps us to deliver what  Plumbing Plus is already well known for – an outstanding partnership experience, whether you’re a supplier or a member.”

“TradeNet Solutions also gives us a full audit trail of who has accessed which portions of news and Learn, so we can track engagement and performance down to an individual or location level and tie these to revenue by product type. As Plumbing Plus continues to grow, TradeNet has continued to support us, listen to our feedback to expand the system and provide innovation“ says Tony.

TradeNet Solutions offers exciting options for the future too said Tony: “We’re already planning to further integrate TradeNet into the Plumbing Plus management systems. TradeNet recognises this is a partnership and a journey that we both must embark on together to be successful and that really sets them apart from their competition in this market”.