Many wholesale and distribution businesses are still unsure about the benefits of ecommerce, despite its growing popularity with B2B buyers around the world.
Increasingly wholesalers are expected to provide a fully transparent supply chain that operates in real time. If the rest of the supply chain is embracing ecommerce, you could find yourself losing partners, suppliers, and customers if you don’t have a strong online presence.
You could also be falling behind competitors who are integrating their business systems, inventory management processes and distribution with their ecommerce platform. They could be offering a wider product range and sharper pricing, thanks to improved efficiency.
Here are some key features to look for in an ecommerce platform for your distribution business.
Automating global opportunities
B2B ecommerce gives distributors access to new suppliers and customers around the world. However, this means that there is a lot of extra information to keep track off, which could be changing on a daily basis.
To make the most of these global opportunities, automated price comparisons and automatic ordering can help to take advantage of the best prices and minimise risks for your stock holdings.
Optimising customer experience
As more of the Millennial generation become B2B buyers, intuitive user interfaces and online purchasing are becoming a minimum requirement.
First, your site must be found, so excellent search engine optimisation and highly relevant results are essential. Then it must be attractive and easy to use, delivering a consistent experience across desktops, tablets and smartphones.
When buyers need additional information the transition to your sales or customer service teams needs to be seamless. To retain customers, their orders need to be processed quickly, efficiently, and accurately, with options like punchout if needed.
Fast and effective automated processes can see an online order placed in another time zone packed and ready for despatch in just a few hours.
Providing real time product information
Your product catalogue needs to clear and accurate, so it must be easy to manage, either as part of the commerce platform or as an integration with your product information management (PIM) system. Easy and flexible on-site search and quotation request options will also streamline the buying process.
Buyers want to order with confidence, so your ecommerce site also needs to show up to date stock levels. To achieve this your inventory systems must operate in real time and be integrated with your ecommerce platform. You also need to be able to update figures immediately for cancelled orders and returns.
Flexible order management
For registered buyers you can deliver tailored pricing and delivery options to meet their requirements. Adding multiple users from the same organisation who might have different roles in the buying process, with the option to route purchases for approval, can help to streamline and automate the process.
In a highly price sensitive environment, additional expenses such as express delivery and deliveries to multiple addresses often can’t be passed on, so these options might be reserved to long-term, high-value customers.
Your reputation can rest on your ability to deliver reliably, so accurate information throughout the supply chain is essential. Where a customer uses your ecommerce platform as a self-service solution and your delivery supplier’s systems are integrated with your warehouse and fulfilment systems you can minimise errors and optimise delivery scheduling. Your customers can then view the progress of their order in real time if they wish.
The wealth of information provided by your ecommerce system analytics can help you anticipate demand, plan storage and despatch. You can make your deliveries more timely, minimise returns and optimise your stock levels.
A Cloud-based ecommerce solution like Cloudfy has been designed for B2B requirements from the outset. Your distribution business could be joining the ecommerce revolution in just a few weeks. Contact us to find out more.