‘Want to wholesale online?’, we ask. ‘Thinking about it.’, you reply. You do think it’s time to move your wholesale business into the B2B eCommerce space, especially after you finished all your personal holiday shopping from the comfort of your couch on Cyber Monday - why shouldn’t wholesaling be that easy too?
In my previous post, we outlined several reasons why you should really get into the B2B eCommerce spirit. But still, you have a few questions, a few more doubts that need to be cleared up. So, let’s get to clearing! Here are some answers to a few of the questions you may have about getting online, but are too busy to find the answers to.
1. The B2C eCommerce market is huge, but is B2B eCommerce also growing?
Yes, definitely! According to a study by Frost & Sullivan, the B2B eCommerce market will actually be bigger than retail by 2020. They estimate that global B2B sales will reach US$6.7 trillion. Just in the US, those in the know predict that 9.3% of all B2B sales will be from eCommerce by end 2015. This definitely indicates the beginning of a trend, so get in the game early.
All research shows that not only is B2B eCommerce growing, it’s going to be a significant way to wholesale in the years to come.
2. What’s my time investment - how long will it take to get online?
You hardly have time to read this article (isn’t there a TL;DR version around here somewhere?), let alone move your whole business online! Fair point. But keep reading, I promise this will be worth your time!
As with any change, it will take a bit of time in the beginning to get set up. Depending on your level of tech-savvy-ness, current state of operations, and how many inventory spreadsheets you’ll have to sort through, it will take you some time to move all your operations online. However, once things get up and running smoothly, you will see a significant time savings. Think automation...automation everywhere.
Take it from one of our wholesale rockstar customers, Deb from Festival Clothing. Festival Clothing is an apparel wholesaler from Australia that brought their wholesale business online with TradeGecko. She explained the process like this:
“It did take some time investment to get everything in TradeGecko set up exactly how I wanted it, because I’m rather tech-savvy and wanted to understand where everything was coming from. But once I got everything worked out and running, I saw an almost immediate ROI in terms of time saved.”
3. Do I need to buy a bunch of new stuff to support going online?
Unless you’re operating with some really old computers and a seriously slow internet connection, the only investments you’ll need to make will be in terms of software. Moving online and to the cloud means that you can keep everything roughly the same, just invest in the right software to make the switch easy.
If you’re already managing your inventory on TradeGecko (on the Business plan and above), you can start wholesaling online for free by installing the B2B eCommerce Platform as an add-on. It’s a great place to start testing your wholesale game without spending money on new software.
4. Will moving online alienate my current customers?
No, actually, it will probably allow you to reach more customers and make more sales. You’re basically offering up a new way for your customers to reach you. Moving online increases your visibility, so that your customers can come to you as easily as they do your B2C counterparts.
Also, since word of mouth is so important in getting and keeping B2B customers, you’ll have a new way to show off customer reviews and recommendations along with your best-sellers. If customers can get online and see a bunch of reviews from a community of other customers (assuming those reviews are good), it can only improve you current and future relationships.
5. What about my sales team? Will they think I’m trying to replace them?
Not at all! If you already have a sales team established, getting online will only help them - not eliminate the need for them. As I explained in detail in my last post, going online will improve communication and put catalogs and orders at the tips of their fingertips, making it easier and faster to close the sale.
6. So much can be done on mobile these days. If we go online, can our sales team use mobile?
Going mobile with your sales team gives them even more flexibility. If they’re at a tradeshow, or traveling, they can pull up your entire product catalog with individually customized prices without having to carry around heavy paper catalogs. Customers are already using their mobile phones to do research when it comes to making wholesale decisions. In one poll, Forrester found that 52% of B2B customers used a smartphone to research products for their business. So it makes sense that your sales teams can use mobile to their advantage as well!
7. What are my options, in terms of where to start selling?
You could start by wholesaling on an existing marketplace, like Amazon, eBay or Alibaba. These wholesale marketplaces are already set up, and their B2B eCommerce game is going strong. You basically just have to put your products up there. You do lose a bit of brand identity, but you’ll have exposure to an established wholesale market.
8. Wait, wait! We’re not ready for large wholesale volumes at the moment.
So maybe you’re not ready for wholesale volumes that come with sales on public platforms like listed above. Alternatively, maybe you already have such an amazing wholesale business and brand set up that you really don’t want to lose yourself to the Alibabas and Amazons of the world.
That’s where private B2B eCommerce platforms (and hopefully for us, TradeGecko!) come into play. When you use a private platform, you’ll get the advantage of selling on a wholesale marketplace, without losing any of your brand identity. As we like to say, your store will have you written all over it. Your brand will be on everything and you have lots of customization options. Customers invited to your store will see what you want them to see: customized prices, products and customized product bundles.
Also, the invitation-only, privacy aspect allows you to control customers entering your store, and in turn, control sales volumes. It’s a great way to start your B2B eCommerce experiment!
9. Am I going to get left behind if I don’t make the switch?
Yes, absolutely! Ok, fine, this was a bit of a loaded, leading question from my side. I just wanted the opportunity to say: moving your wholesale operations online will only help grow and expand your wholesale business. In choosing to stay offline, will your business go under and will you be shamed into crawling into a dark hole? No, most likely not.
But the point of talking about moving online isn’t to talk about what you’re losing, it’s to talk about what you’ll be gaining: sales volumes, more customer reach, better visibility, and overall improved accessibility between your wholesale business and your retailing customer. And this is what I want for your business too!
The bottom line is - wholesale is changing. You have to eventually accept that fact to keep up with the times. You probably still have a few more questions about going online - let us know in the comments what those are. And if you’re getting closer to making that decision to jump online or are curious to know more, check back in next week - I’ll have more information to make your transition a success!