Ecommerce, in 2016, is no longer just a B2C concern – it’s used by more and more B2B companies, too. For small and medium-sized wholesalers in particular, the online channel is recognised as an efficient and cost-effective way to sell to retail partners, as well as to the end customer.
For any business, however, setting up an online shop is no walk in the park. Many wholesalers, both big and small, have stumbled when taking their first steps into the world of B2B ecommerce. This tends to be because they fail to consider all the possible pains and complications at the outset of their journey, and pay the price later down the line in lower margins, lost sales and decreased customer satisfaction.
Want to ensure your business won’t wind up in the same crowd? Then be sure to avoid these three common wholesaler mistakes in ecommerce.
1. Not fully understanding the business impact
Even if you’re not occupied with the running of a brick-and-mortar shop like a retailer might be, the move to ecommerce can have a massive impact on the day-to-day efficiency and profitability of your business.
And this isn’t just about order fulfilment. Imagine you’re a traditional cash-and-carry outfit, for example: in the move to ecommerce, you’ll need to introduce a new picking process to counter the fact your customers no longer come to your warehouse to collect their goods.
2. Not delivering the right B2B functionality
Another common mistake is to use an ecommerce platform and feature-set that’d be better suited to a retail business. Most of the more popular platforms like Magento and PrestaShop can be tailored to both B2C and B2B ends, but if you don’t deliver the exact functionality your customers need – like a business portal, eprocurement tools, fast order entry, member pricing and so on – you may find they abandon you for a competitor right off the bat.
3. Not integrating frontend and backend systems
Finally, any traditional retailer or wholesaler is bound to stumble in the move to ecommerce without integration between their frontend and backend systems. For a classic example of this problem, see the stock control process: if the stock levels on your online shop don’t match up with reality, it’s only a matter of time before this results in decreased customer satisfaction and even churn. And, without integration, the only way you can address this issue is through manual data entry.
Realistically, you need frontend and backend systems that can talk to one another, providing you with a single version of the truth and a single repository for all your sales, purchasing, stock control and reporting data. For many wholesalers, the answer is to ditch basic accounting tools for a fully-fledged business management system like SAP Business One – an ERP solution that can be integrated with most ecommerce platforms easily.
Want to learn more? Take a look at our five-minute guide on the subject.