What does eCommerce Mean for Distributors?

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The rise in multi-channel fulfilment adds an ever-increasing complexity throughout the distribution supply chain with the emergence of digital commerce a disruptive force for both manufacturing inventory wholesalers and distribution companies.

Traditionally, distribution companies are known for their great customer service, and industrial wholesalers as experts in customer supply chain management. However, wholesale and distribution organisations are finding that their industry is changing fast and they need to improve their customer experience to survive in the digital age.

Consumers are driving change

In today’s eCommerce environment shoppers can access detailed information on everything from anywhere. They can check product availability, compare manufacturing inventory pricing and even track the exact progress of their purchases once shipped.

Customers are no longer satisfied with flipping through catalogues or listening to sales pitches. Instead, they prefer to conduct their own research, price comparisons and make their purchases online, at their leisure and convenience.

A new generation of consumers have grown up with technology. They prefer to buy online when making both B2B and B2C purchases, and they make these purchases using their laptops, tablets and mobile devices. Business customers expect online B2B platforms to provide the same quality service and experience as that of a B2C platform. If your services do not meet your customers’ expectations, then your competitors are literally just a click away.

Distributors can compete

Forward-thinking distributors can effectively use the digital, eCommerce space to compete with traditional distributors.

Distributors understand traditional upselling, anticipating their clients’ needs to upsell customers to better products and service. Distribution companies can apply this knowledge and expertise to digital channels, creating upsell opportunities through digital content online.

When customers are going online, they tend to seek answers to their questions more so than searching for specific solutions. Distributors can produce content through helpful articles, blog posts and industry trends. Content drives search engine optimisation and traffic to your website. Be proactive in getting your company in front of customers and other businesses.

Consumers want personally relevant shopping experiences and technology is making that possible. Modern marketing technology and automation can suggest solutions for your customers each time they visit your website.

By using the information they already have, distributors can make every interaction with their clients a personal one. Automated emails can be personalised and customised to individual client needs. Whether offering goods, services, manufacturing inventory or componentry, always target promotions or prices to each business.

Value-add services distributors offer, such as timeliness, product knowledge and post-purchase support can provide a point-of-difference for traditional distribution companies over eCommerce competitors. What you do and do not offer, needs to be transparent and clearly stated on your digital commerce site.

Some customers may be happy to wait for inventory stock, while others may have more urgent needs. To cater to both, you can offer your customers different shipping options, standard and express services.

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Melanie - Unleashed Software

Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.

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