Is eCommerce for Wholesalers and Distributors?

Mark Canes

I'm talking about the smaller companies out there - employing perhaps 10 or 15 people in total, doing a few million dollars in annual revenue. The vast majority of these companies do not provide an e-commerce interface to their customers. I've heard many reasons for this, folks, including:

  • The need to maintain personal relationships as part of the customer's supply chain.
  • The need to be able to upsell and cross-sell - which is supposedly easier by phone
  • Cost-benefit analysis - it costs too much to implement for too little benefit

Now I'd agree to this extent: if faced with tens of thousands of dollars to implement an e-commerce solution that would reduce my ability to upsell and cross-sell, and not do anything for my bottom line, I'd probably also take a pass. But (with apologies to Bruce Hornsby) that's not The Way It Is.

If properly implemented, a B2B (business-to-business) e-commerce solution can be a very cost-effective addition to the array of tools you make available to your customers, making it ever easier for them to do business with you. And an increasing number of people in the workforce simply except to be able to do business with you online. And yes, I do mean specifically you. It may also cost a lot less than you think.

Music Distributor Music Distributor D'Addario Canada wins with B2B

 Here's an example of a company in the music distribution business, and their experience in implementing e-commerce as an add-on to their Inventory Accounting software. Note in particular the paragraphs headed "Benefits" and "Conclusion". Please also feel free to visit the company's website.

Bold prediction: within the next 2 - 3 years, if your customers cannot do business with you online, at least some of them will go somewhere else where they can do that.

My Question To You: what's the obvious flaw in this post?