Why Wholesale Ordering Software is Important for 2019
In 2019, companies in the wholesale distribution industry will continue along the path of integrating technology into their business workflows.
By now, many wholesale businesses of all sizes have already embraced ERPs and CRMs—as well as other technology such as shipping and inventory management software—enabling them to better manage customer data, gain sales insights, and ultimately, enhance customer experiences.
According to a recent report from Clarkston Consulting, 2019 will be the year that manufacturers and distributors will embrace wholesale ordering software (more commonly known as B2B eCommerce) to round out their full suite of business technology. In fact, it’s first and foremost on their list of 2019 Wholesale Distribution Trends. Why is this?
Why Wholesale Ordering Software is Important for 2019
Perhaps a better question is, why use software to enhance wholesale operations at all?
All B2B technology, is meant to accomplish at least one of two things: cut costs and increase sales. Any software investment needs to stand up to this test in order to be justified.
Wholesale ordering software cuts costs by eliminating unnecessary manual steps in your process for capturing customer orders. Consider the countless hours your staff will get back from the phone calls, emails, texts and subsequent data entry tasks that will go away once your B2B customers can place orders without your help.
In addition, wholesale ordering software increases sales by making it simple and easy for buyers to place orders from you. An image-rich digital catalog and ordering interface, available on desktop and mobile devices, gives buyers quick access to all your products, so you can expect larger and more frequent orders being placed.
Your B2B sales reps will also be able to sell better, since their access to important information will increase with wholesale ordering software. Caryn Hecht from Clarkston Consulting explains:
“The e-commerce sales capability is further enabled with order history, order status, purchase order, and invoice visibility.”
Access to this important data gives sales reps greater ability to upsell and cross-sell to their accounts. Robust wholesale ordering software even enables sales reps to send interactive quotes to their customers, as well as suggest modifications to their orders, all within one platform.
So, wholesale ordering software passes this test in a big way! And, thanks to the expertise and specialization of software-as-a-service (SaaS) B2B eCommerce vendors—like Handshake—wholesale ordering software is now affordable and accessible to companies of all sizes, since the upfront and maintenance costs of building a custom solution are avoided altogether.
However, while cutting costs and increasing sales are the most important functions of any B2B software, it is crucial that any new technology you implement plays well with your existing systems, as well.
How Wholesale Ordering Software Fits in With Your Other Software Systems
One of the main reasons given for why wholesale ordering software will be embraced by manufacturers and distributors in 2019 is because it can seamlessly integrate with, enhance and makes the best use of data from your other B2B systems. Those systems include your ERP, CRM, inventory management and and shipping management systems.
Of course, there are other important B2B eCommerce software integrations, but let’s focus on how wholesale ordering software adds value to these four technologies, for now.
ERP DATA FLOWS
When adding new technology to your software mix, a primary consideration should be whether or not it can easily integrate with your ERP—the digital hub of your business. Wholesale ordering software is no different.
Product information stored in your ERP flows directly into the backend of your wholesale ordering software, and is displayed to your customers in a neat interface. Customer information can be maintained in either location, and orders placed by buyers and sales reps flow directly from your wholesale ordering website or mobile app to your ERP.
Any other custom information from your ERP that you’d like to display to your buyers can be enabled through customizations from your wholesale ordering software provider.
Wholesale ordering software increases customer access to the important information you want your buyers to see—such as products and pricing—while automating the ERP order entry process to save you time and resources.
BACK-AND-FORTH CRM COMMUNICATION
CRM systems, like Salesforce, are invaluable to wholesale distribution sales teams. The ability to access fundamental customer information, such as notes from previous sales visits, can be extremely helpful as sales reps prepare for upselling and other value-added opportunities.
This CRM function is enhanced when all this information is reflected through wholesale ordering software on a mobile device, allowing buyers and sales reps to see pertinent information as decisions are being made.
Side note: It’s important to be able to differentiate between what a buyer and sales rep sees when they log in to your wholesale ordering software, so make sure the vendor you choose can handle this type of workflow.
The best wholesale ordering software is even available offline, so that orders and updates can be made even when WiFi is unavailable. When buyers and sales reps regain internet access, all orders and updated information will be automatically synced to custom fields in your CRM system.
In this sense, wholesale ordering software optimizes your other business systems by enabling offline access to certain fields related to customer orders.
Crucial to B2B eCommerce is the ability to control backorders through a proper inventory management system, such as Fishbowl or Stitch Labs. Making inventory levels available to sales reps during sales visits and controlling buyers’ ability to order products that are on backorder is accomplished through a tight integration between wholesale ordering software and these systems.
Again, it’s important to control what your buyers and sales reps see when they access this feature. While on the sales reps’ end, you may want them to see exactly how many units of each item are in stock, you may simply want to let buyers see whether an item is available or not. By enabling backorder controls, you may choose to allow customers to purchase products from you to be shipped at a separate date, when they’re available.
All of these features and more are in your control when wholesale ordering software and inventory management systems are able to work in tandem.
At the end of the day, the wholesale customer experience is incomplete until buyers receive your products. The faster this process is, the happier your customers will be.
The first piece of this puzzle is solved by dramatically faster order processing that results from an eCommerce integration to your ERP. To shave the most time out of this process, however, wholesalers are also syncing up their shipping management systems, like ShipStation, to their wholesale ordering software.
Wholesale ordering software works hand-in-hand with this technology to print shipping labels and fulfill orders as fast as possible. Immediately after wholesale orders are placed and approved, the shipping and tracking information your buyers need can be immediately made available to them.
As a result of this coordination, shipments are easily initiated on the same day that your buyers’ orders are placed—leading to much faster fulfillment times.
Wholesale Ordering Software: Maximizing the Effectiveness of Your Business
In 2019, manufacturers and distributors will continue to embrace wholesale ordering software to increase revenue, cut costs and, ultimately, get more bang for their buck from the other systems they’ve invested in.
As you finalize your wholesale business’ budget for 2019, consider the benefits of adding wholesale ordering software to your B2B tech mix—especially if your customer ordering and sales process could use a boost.
Take the first step to realizing the full potential of your wholesale distribution business by setting up a quick call with one of our wholesale ordering software experts at Handshake. We’d love to help you capitalize on this wholesale trend that promises to make serious waves in 2019 and beyond.