If you’re a successful distributor doing wholesale business, you probably spend a lot of time thinking about how to sell wholesale to retailers such as the way to increase your sales, scale your business and fulfill your buyer’s demands. Also, you probably look into ways to make your operations run smoother and make it easier for your customers to buy from you.
Since everyone is mentioning about getting on the cloud and doing everything online, it’s definitely a turning point in the way wholesale business is being done and there are good reasons that everyone talks about it.
Let’s see some persuasive numbers before we go into details of how others take your wholesale business online. Forrester predicts that by the end of this year, eCommerce wholesale sales in the USA will reach US$780 billion, an even more staggering amount than ecommerce retail sales (US$304.91 billion). eCommerce is clearly asserting its position.
So what does taking wholesale online really means and how to do it?
We’re all getting really good at online shopping. Some of us are really good at it. But why should that be limited to retailers only?
Taking wholesale online means you now have your own B2B eCommerce store where your buyers – regulars or new, can log in to your online store, select the products they want, place bulk orders and snap – they’re done. No more looking through catalogs, endless phone calls with your sales folks on stock availability, or sending in order sheets via fax or email.
So how you can move your wholesale business online? Here are just a few steps to guide you through:
I. Choose the right platform
Yes, you’ve heard it right. You don’t have to design everything on your own from scratch (Fortunately!!). The first thing if you want to get the job easily, just pick a platform. A great platform is equipped with all the essential B2B features, which are:
An Online Store Hosting
You will need a website to showcase your product catalogs and to attract a lot of customers through search engines like Google. Your website will also be a gate to help customers access through an ordering system after being checked company information and verified.
Your buyers can come to the website and see the products first, make up their mind before going ahead and be your partner. So, that’s important to make your website look professional, no errors, look like a B2C eCommerce site and easy to navigate.
Ordering Portal for your buyers with Catalogs and Pricing
This is a key part of your B2B online presence – a self-service sale portal that provides wholesale catalogs for retailers, helps your buyers buy from you faster and more convenient, no duplicated orders anymore. They can now do a quick order with no hassle.
Through a B2B eCommerce portal like Retalo Mobile Ordering App, wholesale business will also reduce phone and email usage, as retailers can log in to the portal to access product info and inventory availability. Moreover, an online ordering portal enables wholesale buyers to place reorders online 24×7. Distributors can now sell products to retailers and eliminate the bottleneck of manually accepting orders over the phone or via fax.
A wholesale portal will establish an online presence for your wholesale business, allowing you to monitor sales in one convenient location. For outdoor brands looking to expand omnichannel capabilities, implementing an online ordering portal will both improve customer relations and increase sales.
Sales Management for your Sales Staff
Sales management in the past and now is so different. Especially when you bring everything online. All the information about sales orders and customer accounts, and even sales staff information (who knows how to sell to retailers and are in charge of a single customer) will be centralized in one system. It means you are fully in control of what is going on in your operation.
Sales management system is designed to help companies to combine their sales procedures and tasks, starting with leads and quotes and moving to conversions, along with reports and quality evaluation. This product can collect vital sales info in a short amount of time and you don’t have to spend hours doing the same work by hand on a spreadsheet. You can also calculate key variables such as conversion rates, win-loss ratio, and lead time.
Inventory Management and Order Fulfillment
Every single distributor knows inventory control and order fulfillment are essential in wholesale business. Handling the two most complicated parts of the business operation is hard, especially when you take it online. You need to find a platform or a solution which can cover and harmonize complex business-to-business features and functions.
Traditional b2b models often do manual order fulfillment. The thing is, it’s no longer acceptable for fulfillment to respond to requests for tracking updates, which can take hours or days to go through the game of telephone to get back to the customer. In the B2C world, you can place an order, and visit the website you ordered from to get tracking updates. In B2B, all too often, you have to email or call to get a tracking update, which can cause delays for the end customer to notify their own customers.
Automated online order fulfillment eliminates the delay between tracking data being available, and your customers gaining access to that tracking data. It offers them the ability to view their B2B orders in a B2C way – visiting your website to see tracking info, instead of having to call in to get updates.
Multi-Channel Data Syncing
Shoppers bounce from device to device and channel to channel. They exhaustively research products and services before ever picking up a phone or stepping inside. They’re out there … watching, waiting, and listening, before you even know they exist.
What’s true in B2C is also true in B2B.
Thankfully, this evolution in consumer behavior isn’t just high maintenance, it’s also highly profitable. Making your wares available on multiple platforms brings in an average 190% more sales than single-channel retailers.
Sounds great in theory …
The problem is the execution. Selling on multiple platforms, marketplaces, and channels is a no-brainer until you start thinking through all of the logistical headaches.
That’s where selecting the best wholesale ecommerce platform comes into play.
You can also choose a marketplace platform like Amazon Business, Etsy Wholesale or Alibaba to start your wholesale business but you will need to depend on their policies and the approval is hard to achieve. Besides, you’re competing with many other products in that marketplace.
If you use your own site, you can promote it using many online channels like Social networking, Google/Facebook ads or your offline sales channels.
II. Back-End Third-Party Integration
For all its revenue-generating power, your ecommerce platform is just a single point on the customer’s journey.
There are pre-purchase moments: like research, content, and ads. Then there’s the post-purchase experience: onboarding, fulfillment (payment, shipping…), cross-selling, and upselling.
The best wholesale ecommerce platforms help you consolidate these experiences by integrating with all the other platforms and tools you use to manage each customer touchpoint.
So, that’s crucial to have a platform that integrates well with what you’re using or what you think will be necessary to be added in the system for better productiveness.
III. Ready to do B2B Digital Marketing for your online business
1. Website SEO
Your fancy eCommerce website won’t do any good if your potential customers can’t find it.
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, allows your website to show up and rank high in organic search results when potential customers enter a keyword related to your products into a search engine.
This is an effective way to get in front of high-quality leads and potential customers as 90% of B2B buyers go online to research business purchases.
It’s also worth noting that 71% of these B2B buyers start with a generic query by entering product-related search terms, instead of a business or brand name, so make sure you optimize for product-specific keywords. As a distributor, you can also include keywords such as “wholesale” to capture B2B buyers.
It’s important to match keywords to the most relevant pages on your website — which may not necessarily be your homepage.
For instance, if the keyword you want to rank for is “cantaloupe widget,” then it’d make sense to direct customers who search for that keyword to the cantaloupe widget product page on your website. Not only are you giving visitors exactly what they’re looking for but you’re also shortening the path to purchase.
Keyword optimization is only one part of SEO. There are other ways to “make Google like your site” by increasing dwell time, boosting engagement and reducing bounce rate. And this leads us to…
2. Content Marketing
You can drive traffic, increase engagement and build trust with your potential customers by creating relevant content and media.
When visitors consume content on your website, they spend more time on a page and are more likely to explore other parts of your website — which leads to longer dwell time and lower bounce rate (translation: good for SEO.)
Posting a variety of media on your website, e.g. video, images, infographics etc., can also increase the chances that your website get found as potential customers filter their search for videos, images, locations, and shopping results:
Here are a few ways to leverage content and media to drive traffic and build engagement for your online eCommerce platform:
- Use videos to demonstrate your products in action. Besides embedding the demo video file on your product page, you can also upload it to YouTube, write a keyword-rich description and include a link back to the product page to drive traffic.
- Use photos to showcase your products. Include relevant keywords in the image file names and add descriptive alt texts so the photos will show up in a Google image search.
- Create relevant and informative blog posts on your website. You can get topic ideas by reviewing popular questions your customers have asked in the past. If they’re asking those questions, chances are people like them (i.e. potential customers) would also be searching for answers to those questions online. This will help drive traffic to your website and get your products in front of more potential customers.
3. Use Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising
Content marketing is a long game — even though the long-term benefits are definitely worth the effort, it does take time for your website to get the “SEO juice” it needs to rank high.
PPC advertising, on the other hand, is effective for immediate results.
PPC is an internet marketing model in which advertisers pay a fee each time an ad is clicked. Essentially, you’re putting your link in front of potential customers and “buying” their clicks to your website.
PPC ads are most commonly seen in Google search results as either text links or images:
The ads are placed before the organic search results at the top of a search results page, so you can be sure that people searching specifically for keywords related to your products are seeing your link first.
To make PPC work for your marketing, hone in on the keywords and test the ad copy so you can boost your ROI by driving the highest-quality traffic to your product pages.
Stay Up to Speed with Industry Trends on how to wholesale
It’s true that if you don’t update yourself, you will be left behind.
Go online and check out your competition. Read reviews about related products. Attend trade shows, webinars, and conferences about your industry.
Staying “in the know” will give you a competitive edge and drive creativity.
You can even host a focus group (it doesn’t have to be huge…even small focus groups can be effective), and find out how you can improve your product or what direction you want to go in for your next product. Staying up to date on trends keeps your business (and your bank account) growing.
Instead of keeping wholesaling as you always have, even if that means you’ll have to explain what a fax machine is to your next generation of customers, you can now take your current wholesale business a step further: take it online and watch how it changes your business for the better.