As a wholesale distributor, you’re in a position of great responsibility. Delays or disruptions with your business translate into disruptions for your customers, which has a ripple effect that also impacts your customer’s customers. You’re an important link in the chain.
The distribution landscape also is a competitive, changing market. The margin for error and inefficiencies is shrinking by the year, especially with ecommerce and the direct-to-consumer model. Wholesale distributors have to stay on top of their game.
With that in mind, here are five common mistakes that wholesale distributors can’t afford to make.
1. Relying on Outdated Methods
The biggest and most common error that wholesale distributors typically make is clinging to outdated, inefficient processes.
This may mean working with pen and paper. Or spreadsheets. Or even a computer with a temperamental hard drive. Any of these is taking an unnecessary risk with the business.
Paper is easy to destroy or misplace. Spreadsheets can be clumsy and time-consuming. And storing data on one piece of hardware means a single failure could lose years of records; offline backups are often less useful than is expected.
Your employees need fast access to critical data at all times, too. Don’t expect them to scour sheet after sheet of paper or search Excel files for information. In the best cases, this is inefficient.
Cloud computing is a faster, safer, more efficient solution. Cloud-based enterprise resource planning software (ERP) centralizes data from several applications and cultivates more streamlined management through automation and real-time reporting.
You can protect files from unauthorized access and share them with relevant employees, colleagues and clients within seconds. All data is backed-up, too. That means no danger of losing critical files — or the issues that brings.
- Taking Your Eye off Customers
Online shopping has transformed supply and demand. Retailers, restaurants, bars, hotels and any other business relying on wholesale distributors have more options than ever.
That’s why you must align with customer expectations. Buyers are only ever a few clicks away from an alternative, and poor service could chase them away.
Take their satisfaction seriously. Remember: the people you’re delivering to have their own customers to consider. Your poor service affects them, too.
Offer multichannel support and a streamlined order process. Live chat, email, phone, and social media should all be available for clients with questions or concerns. Chatbots can help reduce the strain on your support staff yet still provide clients with quick responses.
ERP systems make tracking customer interactions and related data simple, since every interaction is stored in the ERP system. Information from different tools are unified in one suite, so you can deliver a personalized experience to make buyers feel valued.
Roughly 82 percent of business buyers cite personalized service as a deciding factor in their brand loyalty. This can boost retention and encourage clients to recommend your wholesale distribution business to others.
3. Sloppy Stock Level and Delivery Management
Effective inventory management is vital to any wholesale distributor, especially if you serve thousands of buyers worldwide. Deliveries come and go all day. It’s easy to lose track of your exact stock levels.
Inefficient working processes can contribute to poor inventory management. You need to know exactly what arrives at and leaves your warehouse in real-time to avoid mistakes. This allows for better customer service; you can flag any problems and notify buyers of potential delays fast.
ERP systems empower you to keep tight control of your inventory and ensure a smooth workflow. It boosts efficiency of order processing, warehouse and supply chain management by tracking every step in the distribution process and flagging issues as they arise.
4. Not Keeping up with Changing Trends
Not staying up to date with the latest trends to maximize performance across customer service and working methods can be a big mistake.
Embracing cloud computing and better organization is just the beginning. You must follow changes in customer behavior and market patterns, too.
One of the most important things you can do is cater to clients using mobile devices. Your website and purchase process must be optimized for the most convenient experience. Buyers want to complete transactions in a way that suits them.
But it goes further. You could undermine your employees’ productivity and efficiency if you fail to equip them with the tools so many successful businesses leverage today. Mobile is not enough.
CRM, analytics software, multichannel communications, collaboration platforms and personalized training benefit teams in different ways. ERP offers fast access to your key software types in one suite, and can be customized to align with changing requirements.
Employees always have access to the information they need and become empowered to take decisive action based on facts.
In short: Stay informed. Stay flexible. Stay relevant.
5. Poor Financial Management
Wholesale distributors need to build long-term relationships with their customers. The more this happens, the more leeway you gain for your business when issues do arise. But this can lead to late payments and a lack of communication if you’re not careful, too.
And it gets worse if you fail to monitor your finances effectively. This is one area you truly cannot afford to be complacent. Online banking and invoicing tools make staying organized far easier.
Follow up with clients which still owe payments and show gratitude to those who settle bills on time. Good software makes monitoring your finances quick and easy. Much of it can be automated to save time and effort. ERP provides you with all the data you rely on, connected to the rest of your software.
Every wholesale distributor can benefit from ERP. It will help you avoid these top 5 pitfalls and equip your employees with powerful tools. You can improve your customer experience and build better relationships, offering accurate and reliable service to every client.
Navigator has more than 20 years of experience implementing ERP with businesses across different industries. If you would like to learn more about how we can help, start with our ERP Evaluation Guide or contact us at (801) 642-0123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.