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Be an Iron Link in Your Buyer’s Supply Chain

“A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.”

Mary Moore, Founder and Owner of The Cook’s Warehouse and SVP Digital Operations & Omnichannel Buyer Engagement for Juniper by IMC, used insight as clean as the swipe of a Wüsthof knife to cut quickly to the core of her message in the webinar, Merging Digital and In-Person Markets, hosted by Market Insights.

Helping buyers get their hands on and maintain inventory, manage staffing without enough staff, and cover all the bases of their spreading retail reach definitely requires soldering the links in their business chain. And that’s where you come in, ready to be their wholesale welder and champion.

You Can’t Sell What You Don’t Have

While there has been more than one broken link in the commercial chain these past 22+ months, the most daunting gap continues to be the supply chain. Mary shares some of the statistics that have us all, seller and buyer alike, looking for workarounds.

From container availability to trucking prices to blocked shipping routes and the exponential rise of shipping costs, it all leads to restricted inventory, dumping us from the proverbial frying pan into the dreaded, fiery blast of the “You can’t sell what you don’t have” pizza oven.

 

And we all know that what affects you affects your buyer, and vice versa. So, your ability to communicate things quickly and clearly – like what’s in stock and how to manage orders and re-orders – is key to your collective success. Mary highlights these best practices for buying in the here and now:

  • Make it easy for your buyer to see what’s in stock so that’s where they start their order.
  • Leave back-orders open so buyers keep their place in line for limited inventory items.
  • Maintain an open line of communication between your sales reps and your buyers so your reps can serve as consultants. Mary calls them “part of her retail family.”

The Help Wanted is Literally, “Help Wanted.”

Not only is inventory in short supply, so is staff. While you may think that’s a Not-On-My-Plate problem as a vendor, it can certainly provide you an avenue as a facilitator to become even more indispensable. Mary called the sales reps a part of the family for good reason – now, more than ever, your reps can provide a first line of staff augmentation for your buyer.

Your sales reps can consultatively walk through the buyer’s needs and see how those needs can align with the products your brand or agency provides. The buyer is then spending time and money with you that might have been spent on person-hours they can no longer access via traditional employment methods.

Which Changes Will Be Using Stickum?

This leads us right into another of Mary’s favorite sayings: “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”

You’re catching your buyers in a moment of flux, a rare juncture where resistance to change is already worn down. It’s not a matter of if changes will happen, but which changes are using Stickum. Buyers have already been forced to change their buying habits and even to think about them differently. They’re continuing to assess different methods of sourcing and the many alternative opportunities of an evolving market.

And, while omnichannel commerce has become the new norm, it’s far more likely that you are further ahead of that curve than many of your buyers. As buyers are just now thinking about their buying habits differently, your understanding and comfortable embrace of the many facets of the new buying landscape can allow you to be their guide, turning what might have felt like a jungle to them into a well-organized safari.

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With consumer spending still on the rise, whatever the buyers can get their hands on they can likely sell. Find all the ways to be there for them with inventory so they not only have something to sell but also have information that’s easily shared with their customers, on site or online. The loyalty of their customers can then become their loyalty to you.

Wholesale Game of Thrones: Loyalty, Feasting and Winning (at Sales)

And you can make it just as easy as that. If you speak in the language of the industry (the one we all already speak and understand -- not the techno-lingo that scares them), if you lead by example with easy-to-navigate websites, sales tools, and access to your product year-round from your showroom, your rep, and a digital marketplace, then you become not only the role model for this embrace of the future state of wholesale commerce, you also become their go-to, their trusted side kick, their ride or die.

The reduction sauce Mary would have us all make from this is one that employs clever use of all the ingredients at hand, however unexpected they may be. Be willing to adapt your recipe, share it around, and enjoy the feast of sales that will result from, in deliciously metaphorical form, your taking your grandmother’s traditional macaroni and cheese with baked ham and transforming it into a 21st century version featuring rye gnocchi with spiced braised short ribs.


Bon Appétit and Happy Selling!