Consumers today want it all. They don’t just want fast shipping, or free shipping, or ready product availability. They also want to purchase products however and wherever they would like. As a distributor, you face a choice—you can either deliver what consumers want or face a loss of business as people vote with their pocketbooks.
What constitutes a perfect customer experience today? What will transform your distribution business? The key is delivering a truly omnichannel process. Distributors don’t often think about omnichannel commerce, but it simply means delivering a consistent consumer shopping experience regardless of where the consumer chooses to engage a retailer or supplier. A perfect order made through omnichannel commerce will be shipped for free within a day or two. It will be accurate, complete, damage-free, easily returned, and competitively priced.
To be successful in an omnichannel world, your wholesale distribution business must integrate all of its core business systems. Distributors that have connected the operations of their supply chain, CRM, retail channels, inventory and other processes will have the edge. However, most companies still struggle with disconnected data silos that don’t share information and can’t automatically pass an order from one point to the next.
Your wholesale distribution business needs a fully-integrated, omnichannel suite of products that seamlessly connects all of your business operations. Your wholesale distribution business needs NetSuite. With NetSuite, you can manage every part of your business through a single platform. All of your business data is connected. With NetSuite, you can meet the demands of 21st century consumers while improving your efficiency and adding to your bottom line.
Now that’s truly transformational.
The traditional model of distribution is rapidly changing. It’s a whole different ballgame than it was 10 years ago. Today, B2B customers increasingly act like consumers with a desire for self-service tools that give them instant access to product information through their mobile devices. Many consumers are beginning to buy directly from wholesalers and manufacturers through easy-to-use Ecommerce websites.
How can distribution businesses evolve to meet the demands of 21st century customers? Here are a few keys to optimizing your wholesale distribution business for today’s constantly evolving landscape.
As a distributor, it’s important to recognize that B2B buyers are increasingly tech-focused. Millenials are moving up into procurement and management roles vacated by retiring Baby Boomers. They shop on their iPads and smartphones and expect to go online to purchase corporate supplies at any time. They want highly informational, content-rich and fully-functional ecommerce websites that allow them to complete all their business transactions in one place. They have little patience for suppliers who make online purchasing difficult and will most likely leave these suppliers and engage with their more tech-savvy competitors. This generational shift is happening now and will pick up speed over the next five years as the last of the Baby Boomers retire. Therefore, wholesale distributors must stop treating ecommerce sites as "add ons" and, instead, view ecommerce as the critical hub of their businesses.
Along with convenience and rich functionality, buyers want information – lots of information – and they want it available at all times. Today’s consumers do a lot of online research and they appreciate credible content that helps them make decisions. Provide this content for them through your ecommerce website and consumers will be much more likely to purchase from you.
Rich, online content offers other benefits to your business as well. It increases your website’s credibility with search engines, leading to higher search engine rankings and more traffic from organic search. Online content can also fuel your social media and email marketing efforts. All of these activities work together as you push out great content and create a reputation as a resource for credible information in your market or industry.
Distributors must create opportunities and nurture relationships with their B2B customers and partners. Why not offer your suppliers opportunities to communicate with and connect to your end customers. Everything you do should be aimed at making business better for your suppliers.
You already have the attention of your customers, but to keep it, you must constantly experiment to increase customer loyalty. So dream big, and be sure you have a platform that can grow and scale quickly, offering you the chance to implement new solutions as your business grows.
Operating a successful wholesale distribution business requires keeping pace with changes in technology, workforce demographics, customer needs, pricing models. and much more. A business also has to react and adjust to changes in the overall economy and the U.S. manufacturing industry. These challenges often put smaller, independent distributors at a disadvantage to national or international operations. With limited resources, independents may suffer from poor inventory management, outdated technology, insufficient finances to support growth, and the like. When these struggles become evident, even loyal customers may feel obliged to move to a distributor who can offer more products for less money.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
NetSuite levels the playing field with a solution that modernizes your distribution infrastructure, enabling independents to operate efficiently and compete more readily against larger players. Additionally, NetSuite grows with your business so you stay ahead of the curve year after year. By implementing the right technology to accentuate your particular offering of services and expertise, your wholesale distribution business can compete and succeed.