How to Increase Sales Revenue: IT Strategies
Since the IT boom of the 1980s and early 1990s, the world of technology has undergone massive change, with rapid advancements in cloud computing, data analytics, mobile technology, and user experience design. Within this fast-moving technology environment, IT has been struggling to catch up, constrained by their perception as cost centers, the ongoing maintenance of outdated IT infrastructure, and the struggle to convince C-suite stakeholders of the pressing need for change. As enterprises begin to embrace mobile devices, the cloud, and intuitive user experiences that echo those of our consumer lives, however, IT has a growing opportunity to figure out how to increase sales revenue and move beyond the “cost center” stigma. According to Harvard Business Review, “IT must be seen less as merely developing and deploying technology, and more as a source of innovation and transformation that delivers business value, leveraging technology instead of directly delivering it.” In wholesale in particular, where the status quo is characterized by outdated paper processes and major technology gaps in the critical areas of sales and customer service, CIOs and IT teams have a huge opportunity to deliver this kind of business value and drive sales revenue: Wholesale IT can become strategic partners to the core business by enhancing sales enablement and transforming customer experiences through greater control over how information flows through the organization.
How to Increase Sales Revenue on Wholesale IT Teams
In wholesale, IT is typically responsible for back-office technology related to supply chain, inventory, and logistics. While CIOs are stewards of this technology, it’s time for them to take more control over the information that is the lifeblood of the organization (inventory data, sales reporting, etc.) and how it is processed, disseminated, and used. While wholesale businesses have widely adopted technology to run their back office operations (accounting, inventory management, etc.), the analog world remains woefully well represented in the critical customer-facing areas of sales and customer service, where countless B2B sales transactions are still occurring on paper, and resources are spent on 1980s-style manual data processing. In this shuffle of paper, form fields, and bad handwriting, wholesale companies continue to underutilize data, creating a crisis-level lack of data collection and analysis. As a result, many wholesalers are unable to see clear gaps and opportunities, as well as provide the insight-led sales experiences that B2B customers need to make purchase decisions. IT intervention is the answer to this crisis, stepping into one of the most critical enterprise roles in the new information economy. IT has the opportunity to become the insight center at the core of a wholesale business, increasing sales revenue by:
- Aggregating sales data to influence key product, marketing, and sales decisions.
- Enabling reps to sell more strategically with real-time access to customer notes, order history, reports, and inventory data.
- Improving the customer experience with a more consultative approach.
- Giving customers 24/7 access to online product information and an eCommerce platform.
In order to become this insight center and partner to the core business, IT no longer has to take on the risk and ongoing maintenance of building an internal solution. Instead, they can leverage off-the-shelf, customizable software that can be fully integrated with existing backend systems and databases of information.
Order Management Software: An Integrated Approach
Increasingly, more sophisticated organizations are looking beyond their internal systems to compete in an “API economy,” in which Application Programming Interfaces are enabling instantaneous information exchange and more seamless collaboration across departments. APIs are already instrumental among online businesses, but wholesale IT departments are discovering that integrating existing backend systems with SaaS solutions designed for the front-end sales process can eradicate inefficient, high-touch sales and order processing workflows and drive efficiency across the entire order-to-cash cycle. The solution needed to drive this level of efficiency must provide easy access to information for sales enablement while streamlining order writing and submission. It must give retailers a modern, multi-channel experience, with the ability to find information and place orders wherever and whenever they like. It must allow for seamless information exchanges between reps in the field and back office personnel, providing a holistic, detailed picture of the brand’s entire relationship with the customer. Encompassing Mobile Order Writing, B2B eCommerce, centralized Web Order Management, and back office integration, Sales Order Management software is the comprehensive solution wholesale brands are looking for––designed to completely change the way brands and their sales reps interact with customers:
- The Mobile Order Writing application allows sales reps to access a digital product catalog, customer order history, customer specific pricing, and inventory data on the road. In just a few taps, orders are written offline at field appointments and trade shows. Once back online, orders automatically sync with back office systems and email confirmations can be sent off to customers.
- The B2B eCommerce portal allows retail buyers to log into the brand’s wholesale online store, view products, and place orders 24/7. It’s a platform that keeps information like product specs and availability, marketing promotions, and merchandising guidelines readily accessible to customers.
- The Web Order Management platform acts as a central hub, allowing customer service teams and internal administrators to manage all incoming orders, update product and customer information from one location, and compile sales performance reports at the customer level, rep level, and product level.
- Back office integration, the final piece, is key. When orders are written in the field or placed online via the B2B eCommerce portal, they can be synced back to an ERP for quick invoicing and fulfillment. Likewise, data like inventory levels can be seamlessly transferred to sales reps’ mobile devices in the field.
These changes go beyond technology––they’re about taking control of an organization’s information flows and leveraging them to drive profits. They’re about IT creating more collaborative relationships with sales and operations. They’re about changing IT’s role in the wholesale ecosystem, and enabling greater communication, engagement, and value among departments, partners, and customers. The competitive landscape is changing. In the wake of the sudden flood of mobile, cloud, and eCommerce technology in the market, IT teams have become more instrumental than ever. They are no longer adjuncts to the core business, but partners critical to the very products and customer experiences a wholesale brand has to offer, driving revenue and propelling the entire organization into a modern future.