Commerce Trends

by Manhattan Associates

Top Tips in Succeeding in the Consumerisation of Wholesale Era

As well as buying wholesale products, customers are also shopping every day for consumer products like groceries, clothes and books.  They can have any product delivered whenever and wherever they want it.  And now they demand this kind of relationship with their suppliers as well; a relationship based on convenience.

Here are some tips to help wholesalers stay ahead – to connect, deliver and succeed:

Tip 1 – See it and Sell it

To meet these increasing time pressures to keep your customers loyal, you need to know where all your inventory is at all times.  But it’s not just about seeing where it is, it is about knowing if it is available to sell when and where.  All your employees need this single view to be able to serve your clients better, so if a plumber calls to ask for a part you can give him the details of exactly where it is and when you can get it to them.

istock_000019846383Tip 2 – Compete on Service

It is often difficult to compete on price with the needs to protect profit margins with increasing fulfilment costs.  Therefore, edge ahead with offering a better customer experience – small things like not asking for the same information on the phone if they have just given it to a colleague at a branch earlier.  Another example of making it as frictionless as possible is by one click having the customer select their SKU and having all the visibility and availability displayed at the same time.  By equipping all customer facing personnel with the same information about customers and products, they can give a better and a more consistent level of service.

Tip 3 – Look at your whole Fulfilment Network

Source inventory from multiple points in your fulfilment network and keep the process invisible to the customer.  By using techniques such as cross-docking and merge-in-transit to combine shipments from multiple points into a single delivery helps customers order all they need in one transaction with one delivery / pick up.  If you have long lead times, perhaps consider drop-shipping to get it to your customer faster.

Tip 4 – Make returns visible to sell quickly

Don’t forget about returns and make sure this process is just as easy for your customer as the initial purchase.  When a customer does return a product that is resalable, make it instantly available to your entire fulfilment network to sell.

Tip 5 – Start Small.  Don’t get stuck worrying about scale

Set your sights on an area of your business that is trending downward even though demand for the product should be high.  Then take what you have learnt and turn to the next division.  Save time by replicating successful solutions.

With inventory visibility, operations efficiency and the agility you need to respond to customer demand, you’re perfectly placed to win customers, grab market share and beat your competitors.

Check out our wholesale survival kit at http://www.manh.co.uk/wholesale to get more tips and insights.