Whether across B2C or B2B, buyer behaviour is changing. It’s been happening for a while, and has only been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Regardless of sector, Ecommerce is booming, with shoppers opting for online shopping more than ever before. In 2019, retail generated £60.4 billion, with the wholesale sector ranking first in the UK for 3 consecutive years, with 214.7 billion generated in 2019 alone.
So, what does it mean to adapt your wholesale business to serve digital-first customers?
Introducing automated processes into your business model means making things easier and more efficient for repeat customers. Keeping your repeat customers happy is crucial for good business in the long term, so consider what this might look like for your business.
Perhaps it comes in the form of auto-generated invoices delivered straight to their email or an online account, or the possibility to automate repeat orders for the same stock on a regular basis.
Maybe it can look like digitising your supply chain, and implementing automated production and shipping processes. Doing so could help you gather information on regular orders to help manage stock levels when it comes to unexpected demand or manufacturing issues. Ultimately, automation is going to benefit your business, whether by improving operational efficiency, or simply by making things easier for your customers.
Harnessing the power of data
Leverage technology to use your customers’ data to your advantage. Put your customers first by learning about them and their needs. This might look like segmenting email marketing lists to ensure relevant messaging, and featuring products of interest. Doing also means sending exclusive offers and promotions to encourage repeat buyers, and encourage new customers to spend with introductory discounts.
You could also use this data to personalise your customers’ online portal or account, featuring relevant products based on their purchase history.
Creating an online catalogue
If you haven’t already, why not create an online catalogue of your products for your customers to browse online. While it can be a huge investment to adapt your website in this way, the payoff is potentially a much smoother shopping experience for your customers. Going digital with your product catalogue can also help your business reach a wider range of retailers both nationally and internationally, particularly if you invest in eCommerce SEO and/or paid advertising. Most of all, a digital catalogue showcases your offering, and provides more information about your products and business.
The COVID-19 pandemic proved that an online presence is crucial for withstanding a changing wholesale landscape, with retail eCommerce sales amounting to 4.9 trillion U.S. dollars worldwide in 2021. With this figure expected to grow by up to 50% in the next four years, it’s more important than ever to establish a presence online.
Adopting a new business model
Wholesalers who want to retain a competitive edge should ensure their business model has its customers’ best interests in mind. In order to reach and service those customers, new business models and revenue streams may be necessary.
As the industry has adapted to the digital and eCommerce solutions, retail and wholesale marketplaces have appeared to help small businesses reach relevant customers minus the marketing cost. CREOATE is a perfect example of this, with many sellers offering wholesale through the platform alongside direct orders to broaden their stream of customers.
Of course, it’s important to ensure your supply chain and stock levels can meet demand, too. So, when it comes to going digital with your wholesale business, it’s important to remember that joining a marketplace may just be the first step in a wider strategy, allowing you to test the waters as you adapt.
Adapting your wholesale business to include an eCommerce strategy can be hard work, but it’s worth the investment if it means reaching a wider audience to help your business grow. It’s also important to establish what solutions work best for your business, as adopting the right attitude is as important as adopting the right tools.
Maybe your business’ digital strategy will incorporate all or just some of the above suggestions. What’s important is that you’re scaling at a pace that is manageable and sustainable for you. To learn more about how to future-proof your wholesale business, check out the rest of the CREOATE blog for more guides, information and advice.