Wholesale has been one of the key industries in the modern economy for over a century, but at the moment it is finding itself in a difficult position.
Empowered by technology, customers are becoming more and more demanding and are waiting for the slightest misstep to run over to the closest competitor. The Internet has increased transparency and customers are becoming increasingly price, service and quality sensitive.
At the same time, wholesale brands and distributors alike are stretching themselves thin competing amongst each other and trying to keep the old and attract the new customers.
That same technology that made things harder for wholesale can now be used to their advantage, help them become extremely productive and sell more than ever.
These are the most common problems in wholesale nowadays:
Latest stats show that 74% of B2B buyers research half or more of their work purchases online and 93% of those buyers prefer to buy online once they decide on the product. This means that B2B buyers are now better informed than ever and their expectations are growing every day. They want just in time delivery, automated replenishment, multi-warehouse shipping and returns management.
With this in mind, every wholesale brand and distribution company needs to be ready to act quickly and provide desired information to the customer as soon as possible. This can easily be done with technology. By implementing advanced sales solutions like Intelisale and connecting them to your existing ERP systems, you will have a 360 view of your customers at all time. Based on your customers’ purchasing history and conversations with your sales reps you will be able to predict the next purchase, the amount and value of that purchase as well as advise your customers on their possible future needs and requirements. Technology puts salespeople in your company in the position of the trusted advisor, at the same time improving and maintaining the good relationship with the customer.
2. Cutting out the middleman
With the rise of eCommerce, which is expected to reach about 1k billion US dollars by 2020, buyers are shifting directly to the manufacturers’ websites and cutting out the middleman, which are usually wholesale distributors. Can this trend be stopped?
Probably not, but what you can do is change your role and their perspective of your importance in the entire process. Again, once you are powered by technology you will be able to provide greater value to your customers. By using predictive AI that feeds off the data of your customers, for example, you and your sales team can act as an expert advisor that takes care of the buyer and knows exactly when the next purchase is in line. By saving your customer’s time and trouble of having to think about replenishing their stocks or what’s next in store, they will see you as a necessary link in the wholesale chain that makes their job easier and not just the middleman.
3. Rapid growth and scalability
On in five US companies expects the sales growth of at least 10% in the nearest future. Those are the companies that will need a wholesale brand and distributor that can deliver on time and provide necessary information in a matter of seconds.
By utilizing advanced sales technology, you are ensuring that you have all the data customers require in the palm of your hand available anytime anywhere. Software solutions like inventory management, quick ordering and easy online buying will help you maintain and even increase customer satisfaction. And no satisfied customer will try to leave.
4. Improving productivity
Most wholesale companies are struggling to improve productivity within their existing sales reps. Some of them work as a field sales reps and there are only so many clients they can visit the day and so many deals they can close.
But what if you used technology to boost your sales rep’s productivity? Sales apps like route planning can help your salespeople plan their daily trips in advance maximizing the number of client’s visited per day and predicting the time they should spend with each client in order to sell and maintain a good relationship, but also to visit all the clients planned for that day. Other solutions like mobile CRM will empower your sales reps with information necessary to close the sale or at least move it forward, while digital catalogs serve as a sort of marketing tool that gives a clear and detailed overview of the products you’re selling.
5. Millennial Workforce
Last but not the least, millennials are becoming the majority of the workforce – in your company and in your customer companies. Hence, the growth of technology use and highly informed decisions. Millennials are used to researching everything and especially when making important purchasing decisions that hold them responsible. Also, Millennials are used to being powered by technology in their work making their task executions easier and automated. If you want to keep those employees and those customers, there is no other solution except implementing technology wherever and whenever possible.
Numerous sales solutions will enable your millennial employees to get information quickly, manage their work in the best possible way and do their work on the go, therefore increasing their productivity and output. Those same solutions will provide simple access to your products and offers to the millennial buyer who wants quick and easy to use platforms for their online purchases.
What’s going on in wholesale now?
Many wholesalers are doing just fine walking on the beaten old school path, that is true. But technology can’t be stopped and the success of companies who are not using technology will decline over time as the rest of the world goes digital. Those that embrace the digital strategy early on will not only keep pace, but turn the situation in their advantage and have a clear competitive edge in the future.