B2B Ecommerce

How getting online with B2B eCommerce will simplify your wholesale workflows

BY Crystal Gilliam 14 Jan, "16

Let’s talk for a minute about your daily grind as a wholesaler, the normal operations that define your days. If you’re not wholesaling online yet, it’s very possible that your current workflow is way more complicated than it needs to be: full of inefficiencies, manual data entry and errors caused by less than ideal communication.

We’ve been talking about big picture reasons to convert to wholesaling online here, here and here. Wholesaling online isn’t trending now just because everyone is doing it. Everyone is doing it for a reason!

But you want to see some details - what about your day to day operations? How will your daily workflows benefit, not just from wholesaling online, but from moving to an eCommerce platform?

Where are the areas where your business will improve because you start using wholesaling software?

Understandable. Let’s talk specifics then.

Sales orders, purchase orders and invoices

When a customer places an order, you create a sales order to be used by various people in multiple aspects of the sales process. When you purchase products or supplies, you create a purchase order.

All these orders, along with their statuses need to be invoiced and sent on to the departments that need to keep track of that vital information, including accounting, warehouse(s) and purchasing departments.

None of this changes when you move your wholesale operations to an online platform, but what changes is how quickly these sales and purchase orders are created and how easily they can be distributed to various departments.

Also, when the status of a sales order changes, say from packed to shipped, information is updated in real-time. This all boils down to the fact that you could be saving a lot of time, reducing a lot of manual work and improving the accuracy of the entire process.

 

For example, our (TradeGecko!) software integrates with Xero accounting software. Using both, you can manage inventory and accounting online, knowing your information is being shared between the two systems.

In the case of our integration, changes to sales and purchase orders are automatically synched daily so information doesn’t have to input manually, reducing the chance that both you and someone in another office location are working off of inaccurate documentation.

Order fulfillment

Moving on to fulfillment of all those sales orders, going online will also save you time and accuracy here too. If you do fulfillment in house, you can be sure your warehouse is using updated inventory information and sales orders. If you use a 3PL to take care of order fulfillment and other logistics, it’s an even better reason to get online.

Coordinating with a third-party provider, you’ll quickly see the advantage of real-time updates: improved communication, more transparency and a reduction in processing errors.

 

Sales Reps out in the field

Empower your sales reps out on the road by improving their part of the workflow as well. When you move online, they will have access to up-to-date information and better product information and catalogs. Improve communication and connectivity between sales reps and yourself. Also, updated inventory information ensures that sales reps aren’t out selling goods that aren’t available to be sold.

If you extend your online operations to a mobile application, like the awesome one just released at TradeGecko, you’re making the sales process even easier. No more carrying along stacks of catalogs, and if they want to close a sale quickly and easily on the road or at a tradeshow, a mobile app let’s them do it.

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Consolidating wholesale channels

If you wholesale from multiple places, for example, through several sales reps, a warehouse, and online, you’ll be able to consolidate all this data, and quickly communicate amongst all areas, rather than waiting for manual updates and meeting. This will simplify your workflows by making them more accurate, eliminating what used to be lots of errors in overselling, understocking and selling stock that was already accounted for.

Now let’s move on to slighter bigger picture advantages that still mean a more streamlined daily workflow for you.

Autonomy amongst employees

With all the information now stored in one place, employees don’t have to wait for a handover from other departments to get the data that they need to do their job right. For example, your warehouse manager in Australia doesn’t have to wait for a manual update from your warehouse manager in Indonesia. Rather, having all your information on an online platform means he can pull up the report he needs, not having to wait for the other data to come along.

With that autonomy comes more knowledge about the state of the business at any time, which will be really helpful when it comes to:

Quicker business decisions between departments and locations

Again, it’s the whole “everyone is seeing the same data” advantage. When your decision makers are preparing for the big meeting, they’ll have the right information. Same goes for the meeting with your accountant. You want to improve one aspect, but your accountant is looking at old numbers, wondering why you’re worrying in the first place.

Multiply the importance of this if you have multiple warehouses and office locations.

Marketing activities, simplified

Moving away from the technical side of your workflow, B2B eCommerce gives you a boost in marketing activities and company visibility. With an online presence, as long as your website or online platform is out there, it will market itself.

Plus there are additions you can make to your website that can bring about an increase in traffic to your site and finally customers to your wholesale business.

Wholesale consultant and overall B2B expert Nicole McIver explains further:

You should have a 'Stockist Section' on your website listing all your stockists as well as a 'Press Section' showcasing all the media your brand has been promoted within. Last, but not least include your contact details prominently - simply having this info displayed will promote your wholesale business. Talk to your SEO people as well about helping you come up in wholesale search results too.

Basically, getting online increases exposure and just adds to the ways that people can make their way to your store.

Expansion

Whether it’s adding an international warehouse or just adding even more sales teams, expansion while your online means, very simply that your system can handle it. Without much effort at all, you can add suppliers to your vendor list, process larger orders, move goods between warehouses while documenting the information and make things move. Growing your business won’t take long, or much effort to do.

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A look at the customer’s side

Along with your workflow, your customers’ workflow will also benefit when you make the move from offline to online. You’ll be simplifying what is already a complex and long-winded buying process, by at least making the order part easy. Ordering online with only a few clicks reduces barriers to purchasing, which is a good thing, because really, aren’t there already enough of those in wholesale to begin with?

When any one of the B2B decision makers has a question about the product, price, or terms and conditions, they can go online and look it up, rather than having to wait for contact with your representative. You’ll be more open and accommodating to international customers, who don’t have to worry about time zones and international calls, but can get simply get online and buy your products, when they want them, wherever they are.

Along with simplifying your customer’s ordering process, you can also use the intelligence reports that are easily created with eCommerce software to provide a better buying experience. Having data and trends at your fingertips means that you can anticipate bigger orders and reduce out of stock situations. Keep a close eye on what they order, and when, and reach out to them if they haven’t ordered as frequently as they had in the past. Reaching out to customers, with intelligent data in hand, makes the whole process much more efficient and happy.

Next steps...

Like we mentioned before, selling online isn’t just popular because everyone wants to be like the cool kids - it has huge advantages from big picture business operations to the tiny details that dictate how you spend each day. Essentially going online makes your workflows easier: which is almost never a bad thing.

Simplicity, convenience and usability, that’s B2B eCommerce summed up in a few words. Convinced, but not sure which platform to use? We’ve got a recommendation for you (surprise, right?) - try TradeGecko absolutely free for 14 days, now!

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See Also: 

B2B eCommerce: 5 lessons from businesses doing it right

Mastering wholesale: 9 can't-miss B2B articles about B2B eCommerce from TradeGecko

eCommerce is the future of wholesale: 6 reasons why

     

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