Increasing routes to market for the electrical wholesaler & distributor
Posted on: 10 April 2019
By: Amy Bruce, Software Specialist
It’s no surprise to any wholesaler or distributor that the importance and demand for an online shopping experience is continuing to grow. The lines between B2C and B2B are increasingly blurred which means that companies can no longer ignore the importance of owning an eCommerce website, even if they believe it’s of a low priority to their sales pipeline.
Electrical buyers purchasing habits
Electrical Wholesaling performed a recent survey to ask electrical contractors and buyers their thoughts on ecommerce and purchasing habits. 45% of overall respondents said they purchase some electrical material online and 80% said they see eCommerce as part of their future buying habits, especially facilitating just-in-time order fulfilment. These findings highlight that not only could electrical distributors without an eCommerce website be alienating 50% of the potential target audience but it also means that a digital, eCommerce purchasing process is expected by buyers to be the norm in the near future.
The value of data
Improving your routes to market as an electrical distributor or wholesaler is more than simply achieving sales from different channels. The value of data in the electrical industry is high, which means to increase your audience reach, you have to be visible to them online and you have to provide them with the valuable data and product information they’re searching for.
The new generation of B2B customer will require easily accessible data online to help them with their purchasing decisions. Before engaging with a distributor or wholesaler on a personal level, they’ll expect to be able to compare and review product information, reviews, pricing and availability in order to complete their research into the best supplier. A recent Forrester Research survey highlighted that by a margin of three to one, B2B buyers prefer to self-educate about products and services rather than talk to a sales representative.
This doesn’t mean your sales representatives are out of a job, they are vital in securing contracts, but it does mean your eCommerce website is more than a way to place orders. Your website is a way to distinguish yourself from your competitors and market yourself as knowledgeable industry leaders. Data sheets, product descriptions, images, specifications and compliance information are critical for customers to put their trust in your company.
Your website can even be advantageous to the service you provide to those customers who still prefer to phone through orders. Our customer Switchtec told us that, “If we have a customer on the phone who is unsure of the exact product they’re trying to order, we direct them to a product page on the website, which has the relevant datasheet attached, and ask ‘Is this what you’re looking for?’ This gives the customer peace of mind that they’ve ordered the correct item, which in turn reduces returns and extra administration.”
Increasing routes to market
Having an online business strategy is important for future success and eventually, it won’t become an advantage over your competitors, it’ll just become the norm and if you’re not prepared, you’ll be left behind.
An eCommerce website, that is integrated with your business software, can provide you and your customer with plenty of features to enhance your customer service. prof.ITplus eCommerce and online channel integration includes:
- Customer portals: to view outstanding invoices, bespoke pricing, access statements, track orders and view proof of delivery
- Synchronised data flow: to ensure your pricing, product information and stock levels are accurate
- Downloadable data sheets: which ensures your customers have up-to-date and easily accessible product information
- Automated order process: customer data is gathered and stored in the CRM module, payment is taken and recorded against their account and the order is sent to the warehouse team for picking, without the need for manual data entry or staff admin time
- Loyalty points: to drive repeat business and increase customer retention rates
- Amazon & eBay integration: to ensure you appear next to your competitors on a globally recognised platform to increase exposure
The features of an integrated eCommerce website will help your company to save time and cost, improve efficiencies and increase sales opportunities. Benefits include:
- Expanding into the B2C market and becoming visible to end users
- Using your data sheets and product information as a marketing tool to aid self-educating B2B buyers
- Save staff and admin time processing orders for picking
- Enable quick product and data changes to stay relevant
- Fulfil orders quicker and easier to improve the customer sales journey
The key is to provide customers with a multi-channel experience and give your existing and potential customers the opportunity to buy from you online, over the phone, in store or from Amazon. With B2B customer expectations being affected by the way they purchase in their personal time, the expectations on distributors and wholesalers to provide an experience similar to Amazon is increasing. To many small companies this can sound impossible, but simply being visible on multiple channels so that your customers can compare your brand to others and more importantly gather vital product data, pricing and availability information, you’ll continue to be relevant and competitive in a growing industry.
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