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Is Your Digitalization Strategy On Point?

“Digitization is more about offering options to your buyers, rather than a one-off fix.” Delivered at the end of an Entrepreneur.com piece titled “3 Reasons Why the Digitization of B2B Wholesale Is Changing the Future of Retail,” the quote carries a lot of meaning for the B2B wholesalers referenced in the title—or at least it should.  

Of course, readers of this blog should be very aware of our stance on digital transformation (and digital success) in wholesale.

But there’s a definite right way and wrong way to approach the technology you use to transform your business. And we’d further note that Enterpreneur.com’s “more options” edict also applies to your sales reps, who need digital enhancements in the field to overcome the fact that buyers spend increasingly less time interacting with them in favor of self-service options such as online marketplaces. 

As the first and only company providing a fully integrated, end-to-end customer experience to B2B wholesale sellers and buyers—to go with IMC’s extensive experience as the leader in physical wholesale markets nationwide—we’ve collected some thoughts on what a proper “digitalization mindset” looks like. From conceptualization to implementation and beyond, here are key three concepts you should know.  

Ask Yourself: “What Options Do My Buyers Want?”  

And once you’ve asked yourself that question, follow it up with another. “What kind of options do I need to offer to open new, online-only accounts?”  

This line of questioning matters because—as the Entrepreneur.com piece says—there is substantial difference between a flash-in-the-pan solution and one that provides real, long-term value for important people in your sales chain.  

We advise you look at it like this. Real solutions with actual staying power help you offer features to your buyers that “just make sense:” allowing wholesale reps they talk to to view their online buying history in the name of simplifying sales conversations, for one example. 

Meanwhile, offerings without much staying power may ask you to adopt new technologies just to do things of questionable value: paying extra to offer features you’re not even sure your buyers will want, for instance.  

So what do wholesale buyers (both your current ones and the new, online-focused ones you want to pick up) want?  

  • In the showroom, at tradeshows, and at the Markets, they want a sales experience enhanced by digital tools—such as enhancements that allow them to place digital orders directly on the floor.  
  • Online, they want a continuation of all the things that make wholesale what it is. As consumers, people spend less and less time with sales reps annually and a lot more time interacting with self-service online options; technologies that bring the same convenience to the specific needs of a wholesale transaction are rare, but incredibly useful when you find them. (That’s us!)  

DTJAV (Don’t Trust Just Any Vendor)  

Digitalization-sales-app Think of vendor relationships almost like you would a new hire. Who’s the best match for your culture, needs, and overall expectations?

 

Picking the solution is only part of the challenge here. Calling back to the Entrepreneur.com piece, business relationships across the board have shifted significantly. When it comes to the solutions powering your most important transactions, you’ll want a vendor you’re comfortable entering a cozy, long-term relationship with. 

Moreso, you’ll want to find a vendor that understands your industry. Several wholesale businesses in our case study archive (coming soon) had real problems finding solutions from vendors that actually “get” how wholesale transactions work: some tools locked basic features behind a paywall (or didn’t offer them at all), while others caused errors that made it difficult to process transactions on the sales floor. Many had to significantly modify consumer solutions to make them “wholesale ready,” which came with needless cost and complexity.  

On the other end of that, a vendor that understands wholesale is naturally going to do a better job making tools that work for wholesalers. That’s true in terms of the features they offer, the pricing models they make available… all the way down to the performance your sales reps see when they write a digital order on a packed showfloor.  

And more, that’s just right now. As the industry, its buyers, and its technology leaders continue to trend towards self-service and digitally enhanced buying experiences, the vendors that “get it,” like us, are already ahead of the curve. Because we understand where the industry’s going and continue to make tools that anticipate the change.  

Pay Attention to Information—and How You Share It 

Digitalization-laptopThe ability to generate, transmit, and view various types of data on the fly can be a huge benefit to sales reps, who tend to operate best when they have a quick reference for questions they don’t have offhand answers for.

Whenever a company upgrades to a new technology or cloud-based solution, creating freer flow of information is almost always a direct desired outcome. In wholesale, a rather uniquely distributed field, that means implementing technologies that reduce delays in gathering and sharing vital data.  

Imagine a sales rep is working a remote job, visiting a potential new buyer’s retail store or corporate office. (This should be especially relevant considering many buyers rank finding exciting new products as one of their most pressing challenges). The buyer wishes to place an order, but the rep in unable to make promises about exactly what is in stock, since the weekly numbers haven’t updated and they won’t connect with home base until later in the day; the rep is used to buyers being more lax with exact purchase levels, but this one—undoubtedly influenced by convenient online buying options they’ve seen—expect up-to-date information instead of general availability and pricing. 

In this instance, the rep is stumbling from the word go. They don’t always know what information they’re going to need sale-to-sale—but as this situation shows, knowing various points of data or having access to them on the fly is critical to closing orders now.  

Now compare this to a rep in a properly digitalized business model. When they show up to sell, their solution doesn’t just give them information on availability—it includes critical data such as item dimensions and make materials (fabric, for instance). When the buyer wants to place an order, the sales rep can take it all from the same system, building a new account that all relevant parties in the company can access. And if the buyer needs time to think about it, the rep can leave them with a digital tearsheet and catalog, sent directly from the same software powering their order-writing.  

Talk to our Team 

Wholesale—especially the B2B kind—is a diverse field with a lot of different sales needs. That makes achieving a proper technology outlook tricky. Instead of figuring it all out yourself, reach out to a member of our team for a look at the ways JuniperCommerce can further your digital transformation plans. We’re confident you’ll like what you hear.  

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