When selling to other business—or retailers—versus consumers, therein lies a whole new set of challenges.
Buyers have different concerns and needs, but they expect the shopping experience to be just as easy as the consumer one. Despite bulk purchases and the need to manage their own complex buying experience, wholesale distributors need to take a digital-first approach, primarily through the use of inventory management software, to succeed today.
In addition to the adoption of technology, wholesalers need to tightly manage the sales process, inventory and much more. In this post, we’ll outline the basics of what you need to get started as a wholesale distributor selling to retailers.
What is Selling Wholesale?
Selling wholesale means that you are selling to other businesses instead of directly to consumers. In contrast to consumer orders, wholesale orders are complex, large in scale and require the right technology, like a B2B portal, to provide the personalization that retailers and other consumer-facing companies require during the buying process.
How to Sell Wholesale Products
1. Use Inventory Management Software
Perhaps the most important and first step you should take is to use inventory management software. This will enable you to track inventory in real time, which will help keep your warehouse running smoothly and your customers happy, since they’ll know what is in stock before ordering. Inventory management software also helps you automate purchase orders and the pick, pack and ship process.
2. Create a B2B Portal
In order to provide customized pricing and a personalized buying experience, you’ll need to create and launch a branded B2B portal. Here, your customers should be able to login, shop and self-serve many of their own needs, from buying to paying invoices. Their customized pricing should be displayed when they log in, as well as their credit limit and availability.
3. Determine Your Minimum Order Quantity
One way to increase your AOV (Average Order Volume) as a wholesale distributor is to require a MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity) for certain products. Minimum order quantity means that customers cannot order any given amount of a product. It’s the lowest threshold quantity that you’re willing to accept on a given order. For example, if you advertise an MOQ of 500 units, customers can only order 500 units or more from you each time.
4. Track Sales Tax
Because state laws are constantly changing and vary, with some requiring sales tax and some not, it’s important to use sales tax tracking software, like Avalara, to ensure you’re collecting and paying what you need to in order to be compliant. The laws are constantly in flux, so this is definitely an area where automated tax software can support that complex need for you. This is one area where you don’t want to realize you have a huge tax bill at the end of the year, so keep this issue at bay by using automated tax software.
5. Enable Payment Processing and Shipment Tracking
You won’t get far without payment acceptance and shipment tracking software as a wholesaler. In addition to being able to accept purchase orders and allowing customers to pay by invoice, you’ll need payment acceptance software that allows you to accept credit or debit card payments. Automated shipping software also allows your customers to select their shipping method and track their shipment, something that’s critical to customer satisfaction.
6. Enable and Track Marketing Campaigns
Let’s say you’re experiencing a slump in sales. Now is the time to consider a marketing campaign that’s backed by a promotion. Ideally, you generate a promotional tracking code that is emailed to a certain group of customers. This code will allow you to track how many customers take advantage of your temporary discount to determine which campaigns are the best performing.
7. Centralize Customer Data within a CRM
Without a CRM, you’ll struggle to gather and maintain customer contact information, such as billing and shipping addresses, phone numbers and email addresses. Your CRM helps to centralize customer data for the customer-facing teams that support them. Your CRM also typically helps sales teams forecast demand, which is critical to carrying the right amount of inventory to satisfy customers.
8. Analyze Customer and Product Data
Your inventory management software should also allow you to run basic and customized reports that allow you to monitor the health of your business. You should be able to extract data for further analysis in support of measuring your own KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Also, role-based dashboards, which should be accessible via a mobile device or application, make it easy for business owners and CEOs to monitor how their business is doing from anywhere in just minutes.
9. Make Safety a Priority
One of the worst mistakes you can make as a wholesale distributor is to not make your warehouse a safe place for employees and guests. Something as simple as a slip or trip could take out your warehouse manager for weeks at a time. Or worse yet, a supplier’s employee is injured when making a delivery to your warehouse. Because there’s heavy equipment like forklifts and humans interacting together, it’s imperative that everyone is properly trained on the equipment that their using. Be sure to abide by OSHA guidelines and train team members on best practices in safety. This ensures that your warehouse will run smoothly and be injury free.
10. Be Mobile Ready (for customers and employees)
For wholesale distributors, being able to conduct business and sell to customers via mobile is not an option, it’s required. Today’s tech-savvy buyers expect to be able to search for products and purchase on a mobile device, despite a more complex buying process. But there’s much more than buying that’s elevating mobile.
Business owners and executive leadership want to be able to monitor how their business is doing from a mobile device. As a wholesale distributor, you’re on the go. You might be out in the field with sales representatives, at home or in your warehouse, where you need to check in to make sure your business is running smoothly.
For sales representatives, it’s critical to be able to sell anytime, anywhere—whether at a trade show or while visiting with a customer. Gone are the days of complex grid orders being completed on paper and then faxed into customer service. Today, sales should take place not only in your B2B portal, but from a salesperson’s mobile device.
In addition to being able to serve the customer, your salespeople need access to sales data and reporting in order to help keep them on track to hit their sales goals. Being able to view sales to date plus varying factors helps ensure that your representatives are keeping tabs on their own progress.
If you’d like to learn how Systum can help you start a wholesale distribution business, fill out the form below.