Hi there - I’m your new wholesale buyer. And I’m a millennial.
We couldn’t leave well enough alone, could we?
We’ve killed countless brands in the consumer retail space and forced countless more to change the very way they operate from sourcing, to merchandising, and supply chain management. We’ve voted with our wallets and taken to social media in order to influence and implore brands to change, to be accountable, to think differently and provide customer experiences that delight. We’ve demanded brands let us buy when, where and how we want and then provide instant detail about the status of our orders.
Now we’re taking these elevated expectations forward into our wholesale research and purchasing decisions. Everything that matters to us in the B2C space also applies to B2B.
A Google Consumer Insights Report indicates that in 2014 nearly 50% of all B2B buyers were millennials, and that number has increased over the last four years. As a member of the cohort born in the 80s and 90s, we have hardly known a world without access to the internet. We digital natives leverage instant connectivity to deeply research before purchase, reach out to peers for reviews and feedback, and abandon cumbersome business relationships for ones that are more efficient and catered to how we prefer to buy. Ask me to fax in an order and I’ll promptly find 5 new vendors who can supply what I need with the click of a mouse. If that wasn’t enough, this behavior is starting to influence the way that our more seasoned coworkers purchase as well.
Bottom line - if your organization is not changing their sales and marketing strategy to adapt to the behaviors of this demanding generation, you’ll find that your customer base is going to erode. Full stop. It’s that simple.
Don’t worry, my message does not solely harbour doom and gloom. My “demanding generation” are not the first harbingers of change enabled by technology (queue horse and cart references, not to mention getting up from the sofa to change a television channel). This era of technological change is enabling merchants to make processes more convenient, efficient and comfortable for their buyers. For B2C merchants, eCommerce technology enabled them to allow customers to buy from the comfort of their home, and mobile technology extended that convenience enabling them to buy wherever and whenever they want.
It is this buying experience that modern B2C consumers are pulling into the wholesale world. Why should our purchasing experiences have to change when we arrive at the office? Especially when many of us are remote workers and don’t even have a physical office!
Thankfully, for organizations looking to transform in the digital era, there are dozens of options available to embrace B2B (or wholesale) eCommerce. What’s more, the adoption process doesn’t have to be painful or overly challenging either.
Today even a single-employee wholesale company can take their business online by leveraging cloud platforms without requiring a significant investment in hardware or an IT department. Many of these platforms offer simple instructions to guide wholesalers through the process of setting up their new online storefronts. Others also provide free content focused on helping them become successful as they embrace their new multi-channel business (which you can read more about in my next blog post).