In our previous blog on wholesalers and B2B eCommerce, we looked at the challenges wholesalers face in the digital age. They often struggle with a lack of digital maturity. This is reflected in the use of outdated platforms or software and difficulties in embarking on the right digital transformation strategy.
At the same time, they want to find new and easier ways to do business with customers. They also want to offer people a better customer experience through a diverse range of integrated channels (omnichannel). And of course without compromising on operational efficiency and the right balance between prices, margins and stocks.
In this blog article we tell you more about the benefits of digital transformation for wholesalers and the different sales channels you can use to generate more sales.
Because eCommerce creates opportunities for business models that undermine the dominant position of wholesalers and distributors, it is important that wholesalers follow this digitization process. That way they can reverse the roles.
Wholesalers have a few advantages and qualities that the manufacturers and B2B marketplaces they compete with lack. For example, wholesalers are naturally a lot closer to the end customer than manufacturers, so they also have access to a larger amount of customer data. Compared to marketplaces, wholesalers have a lot of extra expertise and product knowledge.
Digital transformation empowers wholesalers to deliver the customer experiences today's B2B buyers are looking for. Most importantly, this equates to a seamless experience for every stakeholder throughout all phases and aspects of the B2B journey (search, product cataloging, pricing, inventory, and customer service).
A concern expressed by many wholesalers is that e-commerce is unable to adequately deal with the complex pricing that is often commonplace in the B2B sector. International Plywood, a leading supplier of products for the construction and packaging industry, proves with a smart integration of its eCommerce platform and ERP system that complex pricing and automated product selection work well in B2B eCommerce.
Paardekoper, the leading European wholesaler of packaging materials, uses its eCommerce platform to serve new market segments and expand its product offering. In addition to the paper coffee cups that the company has always sold to restaurants, snack bars and markets, Paardekooper now also supplies the milk and sugar for coffee. And that's not all. The company now also supplies the coffee itself. And even for restaurant interiors such as plants, candles and mirrors you have come to the right place at Paardekoper. Secrid, a manufacturer of wallets and cardholders, has a mobile-first B2B webshop and a headless B2C solution, both supported by the same eCommerce platform. For example, the boundaries between B2B and B2C are becoming increasingly blurred.
The above benefits show that digital transformation means something different for every type of business. Wholesalers often work with the same types of platforms, but have different goals. However, reaching a larger and more diverse audience is a common denominator that keeps coming back.
For a long time, wholesalers had been thinking that 'digital branding' (constructing a strong online brand identity) was primarily a point of attention for retail, where you as a B2B party did not have to put a lot of energy into it.
A Gartner study found that many customers see little difference between the digital offerings of competing B2B brands. That is a problem. In 2021, digital differentiation is your brand! Time to take a look at the key sales channels that can take B2B eCommerce to the next level.
A good B2B shop is a first requirement. Such a webshop supports complex pricing and gives customers the opportunity to place bulk and repeat orders in an instant, without the need to select products one by one.
A B2C shop is a welcome addition to your B2B channels and is relatively easy to implement because you already have the fulfillment experience needed to make a success of this business model. A modern eCommerce solution delivers elegant solutions for the integration of B2B and B2C. At Paardekooper, B2B and B2C customers can, for example, order in the same webshop. Visitors can change their buyer status by choosing prices with or without VAT.
A brand-specific shop is extremely suitable for serving niche groups with very specific customer demand. A powerful tool for brand differentiation and very interesting from a SEO point of view.
Digital marketplaces are becoming increasingly popular. While they often come with smaller margins and less control over customer journeys, choosing the right marketplace is a great way to find new customers and increase your digital sales.
Digital maturity doesn't mean kissing your brick and mortar stores goodbye. On the contrary, it is about seamless integration of all your channels, devices and locations. Paardekooper, for example, has several physical stores where customers can use self-service to configure products or buy product versions online that are not standard in stock. Do you offer customers an excellent and distinctive physical shopping experience? Then the chance of repeat purchases via digital channels increases.
B2B buyers like to be autonomous, but also want to be able to call on the help of a representative if they still have questions. Proper integration of your eCommerce platform and ERP system ensures that customer and representative always have the same information. A digital option such as live chat is also becoming increasingly popular and important.
Each country has its own rules, laws and prices. Consider, for example, the differing VAT rates per product group in different EU countries. Or the usual payment terms for invoices per country. Therefore, use different webshops for different countries. That shows that you know the specific situation of a customer; knowledge that breeds extra confidence with potential buyers.
Thanks to digital transformation, wholesalers can create a new role for themselves on the oh-so-changing commercial scene. The technology then reinforces the knowledge that is already naturally present at wholesalers; expertise that is given an innovative impulse by using new digital channels that increase the customer base and increase turnover.
The CloudSuite platform has already assisted many wholesalers on their journey to digital maturity. Are you ready to embark on that challenging journey and embrace the benefits of digitization? Then we are happy to assist you!