It’s official: the world is going online.
As if the digital revolution was not enough, the whole COVID-19 situation has further pushed us into a digital future. With a digital disruption in every aspect of our lives, societies are relying on technology now more than ever to connect with their friends and families, access essential services and most importantly, keep businesses going.
If you have not guessed it already, allow us to elaborate: the brick-and-mortar business model is getting challenged by widespread digital acceptance. In today’s world, it is all about selling products online and providing digital services to the market, which means having a strong online presence is a must for all types of businesses – including wholesale.
Many wholesale businesses, such as Knobs Co. and Berlin Packaging, have realized the potential of e-commerce and shifted to a holistic e-commerce store that does not focus on sales elements, but also has dedicated pages for customer knowledge and help. This allows them to connect with their B2B customers on a higher level, which eventually leads to customer loyalty.
In this article, we discuss why e-commerce is the future of wholesale businesses, and what benefits it has to offer for wholesalers. We have also included some tips on how wholesalers can successfully integrate e-commerce into their existing businesses.
Why Wholesalers Should Switch to E-Commerce
E-commerce is the need of time, but if you have a well-established wholesale business following the brick-and-mortar model, then it wouldn’t make sense for you to go through the transition, right? Well, here are some reasons why you should think about switching to the e-commerce model:
Change in retailers buying behaviour
Today’s B2B customers’ are smart, well-informed, and tech-savvy. They know they have hundreds of options to choose from, and they use the internet to do that. According to stats, 89% of the B2B buyers do their research on the internet and 73% search your business on Google. This means that if you do not have an online presence, you can lose out a significant number of potential customers.
Besides this, another interesting change in retailers’ buying behaviour is that most retailers nowadays want the same buying experience as consumers, irrespective of the complex nature of wholesale. E-commerce can substantially help in this regard as it assists sellers in providing seamless buying experience to their customers.
Data-driven business models
Analytics and data are becoming an increasingly important factor for businesses from both customer acquisition and retention perspectives. Proper understanding of key metrics and performance indicators, such as the number of visitors on your website, engagement, cart abandonment rate, and ROI can help you improve your overall business performance.
With e-commerce, it becomes incredibly easy to measure these key metrics and know where your business is lacking. You can also incorporate important feedback mechanisms, such as surveys, in the buying process to obtain valuable customer insight. This wealth of information is too precious to miss out on.
Gone are the days when a wholesalers’ target audience comprised of retailers only. Many wholesalers are now skipping the middlemen and going directly to the customer with online sales. This enables them to add a direct-to-customer-sales component alongside their wholesale operations – and we believe that it’s a very smart move.
Even if you don’t want to sell to customers directly, you can always use e-commerce to strengthen your brand’s visibility. So, by adding the e-commerce element, you can make your brand visible to a wider base of potential buyers. This can contribute to future growth significantly.
The future is mobile
This small device called a mobile phone has penetrated heavily into our lives. From connecting to people across the globe to editing documents and running social media accounts, everything is done on mobile phones nowadays.
According to a study by Forrester, 61% of any company’s buyers make purchases through their mobile phones, so it makes sense for the company to takes its sales and operations on this device. Wholesalers should now think about integrating mobile-friendly websites and apps to reach out to their customers (if you have not done it already).
Benefits of E-Commerce for Wholesalers
Before you move your wholesale business online, you would obviously want to know what benefits it entails for your business, and whether the investment is worth it. Here are the key advantages of using e-commerce for wholesale:
Eliminates unnecessary costs
Cost is one of the driving factors in business. Like all other business decisions, you would be curious to know about the monetary investment that e-commerce business demands. Well, we have good news: setting up an online shop does not require a large investment. The only purchases you will have to make while going online is buying a complete cloud-based B2B e-commerce solution, some hardware, and training your staff for using the system.
Besides this, selling in a physical store involves a number of different costs such as utilities, maintenance, overhead costs, etc. E-commerce stores are a cost-effective alternative to this as they can reduce your overhead costs to a great extent. Your printed product catalogues become listings on your website, paper receipts and invoices are directly emailed, and your staff can manage orders from anywhere through their laptops or phones.
Better advertising opportunities
Do you share pictures of your products on social media? If not, is it because you do not have good pictures to share, or you do not have time to upload them on your computer and then post? E-commerce wholesale operations can solve this problem for you. With e-commerce, you can easily stream product pictures from your online catalogues, thus making the process smooth and efficient.
Not only will this streamline your operations, but it also frees up time that you can use to focus on more important things, such as building customer relationships and improving product quality. Even advertising your products become much simpler and efficient through e-commerce wholesale operations, as you can directly pick up pictures from your catalogues and use them for advertisements.
Are you worried because your sales are not growing significantly? We understand. When you are running a brick-and-mortar business, your reach is limited due to location constraints. However, that’s not an issue with e-commerce.
Progressing towards wholesale e-commerce operations gives you an opportunity to reach out to more potential customers and consequently, make more sales. As retailers are becoming more tech-savvy, most of them now prefer buying online as it allows them to engage with the business through multiple channels. Simply put, going online can broaden your horizon and enhance your brand visibility to a great extent.
How to Successfully Integrate E-Commerce in Your Wholesale Business
The number of B2B e-commerce is increasing and will keep increasing in the future, due to the changing trends and retailer buying behaviour. Also, the benefits of e-commerce outweigh its disadvantages, and all of this makes it imperative for wholesale businesses to switch to e-commerce (if not done already).
Besides careful planning and implementation, here are some useful tips that can aid in a successful transition to e-commerce wholesale operations:
- Do your research. Reach out to your customers and ask them what features they would like to see in your e-commerce platform. This will give you a better insight into customer preferences and help build a platform according to their requirements.
- Make sure your employees are well-informed and properly trained. Lack of information and training can lead to many disturbances which can affect the whole business operations.
- Build a great and user-friendly e-commerce platform. This goes without saying. Your success in e-commerce heavily depends on your website and e-commerce platform you are using. You might want to check out Order Circle’s B2B wholesale e-commerce platform for this purpose.
It is a digital world and retailers expect the same treatment from wholesales as consumers do from retailers. By integrating e-commerce in your wholesale operations like ResMed and Restaurant ware did, you can give retailers what they expect, enhance your brand visibility and expand your horizon – all of which will ultimately benefit your business in the form of sales growth.