5 Reasons To Take Your Distribution Business Online
Driven by the demands of millennial trade customers and the need for real-time visibility of sales and stock, many distributors are choosing to take their businesses online. If you’re still unsure about the opportunities digitalisation could bring and whether it’s right for your business, here are five ways you could receive an instant return on your investment.
Allow trade customers to place orders with you any time of the day or night
Over the past few years, the buying behaviour and expectations of trade customers have changed. They are no longer happy to sit through long sales pitches or shift through paper catalogues. Instead they want to be able to complete research, consult with colleagues and place orders in their own time.
According to Forrester, 93% of business buyers prefer to buy online when they’ve decided to buy. Offering a transactional B2B eCommerce website, on top of your telesales team, instantly gives your customers the option to shop at their own convenience. Busy independent business owners will be able to place orders with you 24/7, from any device and any location.
Increase sales without increasing staff
Another benefit of having a B2B eCommerce solution is that you’ll be able to provide customers with a personalised experience without the need to increase sales and customer service representatives. You will always want to give your customers access to these teams, however by providing answers to common questions, custom product pricing, credit limits and online order tracking, you will reduce the number of telephone enquiries you receive significantly.
Having a single view of your customer data will also allow you to anticipate your buyers needs automatically. You can upsell with on-site product recommendations based on their previous buying behaviour, send out relevant follow-on marketing campaigns suggesting new products, and send replenishment reminders when you think their stock may be running low.
Get your products live fast
If you still offer your customers traditional paper catalogues, you’ll know how much work goes into each one, from content to organisation, design to proofreading, layout to imagery. Even once you’ve finished planning your catalogue, you still need to wait for it to be printed and posted before you can get it in front of your customers! With a digital catalogue, your new products can be in front of customers within a matter of hours. Product details and specifications can be uploaded in bulk via a spreadsheet and automatically formatted into a pre-designed, clean and easy to navigate layout.
In addition, online product pages contain far more information to help buyers make their decision. You can, and should, include multiple images with the ability to zoom, demonstration videos, detailed specifications, frequently asked questions, customer reviews, and customised pricing once the user has logged in.
Reach new customers
Listing and selling your products online automatically opens you up to multiple new audiences. You are no longer restricted to selling to the select few who receive your paper catalogue. SEO is one of the best ways to increase the visibility of B2B eCommerce sites.
To improve your chances of being found by trade customers on Google and other search engines, provide as much unique information about your products and services as possible. Identify phrases that your customers are likely to query when searching for your products then use them in your product page’s meta title, meta description, H1 tag, image and video file names, image alt text and naturally throughout the description and specification.
If in the future, you find that you are receiving a high amount of traffic from overseas, an online catalogue means that you can easily provide translated content, currency converters and international delivery information for your new customer base without having to set up a large native-speaking customer service team. For more tips on expanding overseas, see our 7 Steps To International Success.
Reduce admin and keep data in sync
Taking your distribution business online gives you the opportunity to manage your entire B2B and B2C operation through a single platform, reducing the time, money and headaches involved in transferring data from one system to another.
Having one cloud-based solution will also allow data to flow around your business in real-time so that every team has a clear, up-to-date view of stock, accounts, and orders. This means:
- Buying will have visibility of stock and sales across the business.
- Finance can quickly pull up outstanding invoices or cash availability.
- Customer service teams can accurately predict when stock will be replenished or when a customer’s order will be delivered.
- As soon as orders are placed, they are sent directly to the warehouse and worked into picking lists, leading to faster and smarter fulfillment.
- Orders can be fulfilled from multiple locations to get them to your customers in the most efficient way possible.
If you’re a distributor interested in finding out more about how Venditan Commerce could help you to survive in the digital age, take a look at our Bradshaw Taylor case study.
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“We were constantly selling something online that hours earlier we had sold on the shop floor and frequently frustrating customers who wanted to redeem gift vouchers online that they had bought in-store, or vice-versa.
We knew we needed to end the previous approach of using different systems to run different parts of our business. The Venditan Commerce solution gives us great visibility across our entire stock, in real-time, no matter where we want to sell it.”
Shankara Smith, Founder