The digital revolution has happened.
The Gen Z customer is aware, informed and technologically advanced. This has been possible due to the “always online” world that we have evolved into. According to World Internet Users Statistics and 2018 World Population stats, 55.1% of the world’s population has internet access.
With digitization has come improved efficiency, and retailers are now expecting the buying process with their supplier to be as simplified as making a business to customer purchase.
Not convinced? Take cues from giants like Amazon, eBay, Alibaba, who have realized the importance of this growing trend and have quickly expanded operations into the foray of wholesale e-commerce. Alibaba reigns in this category, as they reported an 11.8% revenue came from wholesale e-commerce, which amounts to a total of almost $1 billion. Going online has facilitated smoother B2B market transactions. Small, medium and large businesses alike have realized the demand for B2B interactions to become more like B2C when it comes to flexibility and shopping easy.
If you have your own e-commerce store, then retailers or potential buyers can easily place orders in bulk in just a few clicks. You will be saved from the hassles of face-face negotiations, arguments and all the confusion that arises when you are doing business that is not automated.
Although, there will always be differences between B2B and B2C business models. With the rise in digital transformation, more so e-commerce, these distinctions are gradually narrowing – though both are here to stay separately without hurting the overall economy. Frost and Sullivan have estimated that B2B online business is expected to double in size compared to B2C e-commerce, generating up to $6.7 trillion by 2020.
Another good news is that in the US, e-commerce wholesale is projected to reach $780 billion by 2020 as compared to e-commerce retail hitting $304.91 billion. Staggering numbers isn’t it? Imagine how many people you can reach if you hop onto the e-commerce bandwagon. Then why should you as a wholesaler lag behind? No, you shouldn’t!
For a long time now wholesalers have hesitated to adopt digitization. True, the shift will be gargantuan. You will legit have a multitude of questions regarding the shift and its impact on your business such as:
- What is the future of B2B e-commerce?
- How long will it take to move online?
- What kind of investment will I have to make?
- What happens to my customers?
Taking it from the top, the biggest concern that any business has before venturing into new territory is whether they’ll survive or not. Well, when it comes to the amalgamation between e-commerce and wholesale, then the future is bright! Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why you must take your wholesale business on the e-commerce platform.
Customer is King
Although wholesalers can mostly get away with keeping customer service at the back seat as compared to retailers, however, B2C buyers are expecting the same service from B2B businesses.
The customer today is already armed with all information about your B2B company even before approaching you. This is because 89% of B2B buyers research on the internet while 73% of buyers use Google to search you online.
By moving online, you can put your business on the World Wide Web map. The internet and IoT enabled services have given consumers a personalized experience, like 3D online trial rooms and VR-supported travel services. For wholesale, personalization comes in the form of customized catalogs and pricing options and interactive websites.
Low Investment, Cost-Effective
You’re about to move your entire wholesale business online so obviously, you’re curious about the monetary investment that demands. Setting up shop online does not require a large investment; the only investment you might have to make will be on purchasing an inventory management software, some hardware and training your staff to use the cloud-based system.
As a wholesaler, you will also make more money by going online. A report by Econsultancy states that businesses that have shifted their operations online have seen a 44% increase in their Average Order Value(AOV).
When you are selling in a physical store, you have to worry about so many expenses such as the rent of the shop, maintenance, and overhead costs, staff salaries, electricity etc. Establishing your own e-commerce store is a cost-effective alternative since you don’t have to spend money on making a website. On top of that, if you have your website, you can simply optimize it to receive wholesale orders at no cost. Your product catalogs become product listings where customers can browse through products easily, give and read product reviews, and then make their choice. Going online not only saves you money, but also time and makes the business more transparent for both buyers and sellers. Another cool benefit, online product listings instead of printed catalogs, digital invoices and purchase orders is an eco-friendly paperless way of doing business.
Reach is infinite
It’s completely natural for you to worry about your existing customers once you decide to make the shift online. But don’t fret. Moving your wholesale business online will not estrange your customers. In fact, a research by Forrester explains that 60% of companies say that customers who shift online to multiple channels, end up buying more.
Stats such as these, prove that customers are embracing the digital concept and prefer to buy from omnichannel businesses that provide them with a holistic shopping experience.
Progressing toward e-commerce wholesale will help you reach out to more customers and make more sales. Since consumers are becoming extremely tech-savvy, they will be able to find you easily and engage with your content and products in new ways. You will also be exposed to newer markets and customers, broadening your horizon and enhance brand visibility across channels.
Moving your wholesale business online helps you focus more on the important aspects of your business like closing deals, making sales, acquiring more customers rather than sitting down and filing paperwork for each incoming order or relying on printed catalogs that get outdated with every season.
You will move away from taking orders in the traditional way, dealing with customers face-to-face, and tracking inventory manually. The ordering process becomes automated, with multiple payment options according to the customers’ convenience, and delivery tracking. By providing dynamic pricing tiers, customers can purchase orders in bulk and wholesalers can set a minimum order quantity at set prices for different products. This way, retailers and wholesalers are synced, while business processes become transparent and fluid.
The Future is Mobile
A study by Forrester claims 61% of a company’s buyers make purchases via mobile, second to laptops which account for 71% of use. An Accenture report states that 59% of B2B organizations see a third of their customers transacting online.
The mobile has penetrated heavily in every sphere of business. So it’s a sensible move to take your business and sales team on the mobile. Mobile makes it easy for customers and sellers to communicate easily. This has an added advantage that, when your sales reps are on the move, they can fire up your website or app(if you have) and display the entire product catalog on the screen, without having to carry around those cumbersome hardbound catalogs.
Take the next step, NOW!
The face of the wholesale industry is rapidly transforming. With the onset of digitization, Big data, and Predictive analysis, IoT enabled services, and growing accessibility through the internet, customers have become informed netizens with the ability to make purchase decisions on their fingertips. Now is the time to make the move online. Digitizing your wholesale business will make it faster, easier, credible and cheaper to conduct business.