The benefits of an online ordering system or web store for distributors and wholesalers are significant, as Mike Schmidt of Industrial Distribution magazine outlines in his article Strictly for Sales. With eCommerce “you are open every minute of every day and customers can buy from you at any time”. For many, this means automated sales that can reduce strain on order entry staff and result in increased sales over time.
In a previous post, we addressed 4 eCommerce implications for distributors. Several of these points relate to today’s discussion on “Strictly for Sales”. Due to the increasing prevalence of eCommerce, customers (both B2B and B2C) now want quick and easy ways to place orders. Your customers are no longer satisfied with out-of-date product sheets; they expect real-time pricing and inventory information when making purchases and will go elsewhere if they cannot find it with you.
These changing dynamics have led to the following pressures for you, the wholesaler and distributor:
- Not only are you expected to deliver the right quantity to the right location but also deliver product immediately and at the right price
- Customers demand diversity in ordering options, including traditional methods and online ordering systems – not to mention the desire to order from anywhere at any time (mobile ordering)
- Customers have also come to expect superior product selection including multiple delivery options
- eCommerce itself can increase order volume to such an extent that you may require a more sophisticated accounting and inventory software system
The easiest way to deal with these pressures is to implement an integrated eCommerce and ERP software solution. Implementing a web store lacking proper back-end integration with a sophisticated inventory management system is a recipe for failure. As orders roll in from the web store at a blistering pace and business begins to expand exponentially, you may end up falling behind with order fulfillment. In addition, inventory discrepancies result in dissatisfied customers, creating manual work when you must notify them that you do not have the product in stock that you promised them on your website.
Many wholesalers and distributors find themselves doing “too well” after implementing an eCommerce solution, and as a result feel like they are drowning. Thankfully, avoiding the problem is simple: do your research, find an appropriate integrated solution for eCommerce as well as a robust and integrated inventory & accounting solution. Finding the right partners is the most important piece of the puzzle – a team with experience offering integrated ERP and eCommerce solutions will help you ensure success.