Over the past 12 months, there has been a greater recognition across the wholesale industry of the benefits that ecommerce can provide. Even the most hardened traditionalists who previously didn’t see their customers migrating online are recognising the need for digital platforms as their peers experience financial growth.
However, there are still barriers which are limiting wholesalers’ ability to deliver successful B2B ecommerce to their customers. Wholesaling is a complex business with many facets to consider for online success, from credit accounts and multiple users to fixed delivery schedules and restricted product ranges.
As a result, data and integration is a big hurdle for wholesalers because it is difficult to replicate this complex business logic online. Many of the packaged ecommerce solutions are retail-focused, so they don’t have the features or functionality required to meet these unique needs. Generating and transmitting the sheer volume of data needed for a wholesale ecommerce platform can also be a challenge.
Luckily, there are many ways that businesses can overcome these barriers. Firstly, it’s essential to find a B2B-focused ecommerce platform that is designed for the wholesale industry. This will have the required functionality installed so that development costs are minimal. The suppliers will also be able to provide advice based on their experience with similar businesses.
Planning is also essential because businesses often underestimate the time and costs required for digital transformations. Wholesalers need to formulate their digital strategy before ecommerce and digital projects begin to ensure they align with business objectives. As a specialist B2B ecommerce supplier, we are able to help businesses with this.
In 2020, ecommerce will continue to facilitate significant revenue growth across the wholesale industry. However, as the adoption of ecommerce and other digital channels increase, businesses have to compete with a growing number of online retailers and digital disruptors. Wholesalers will need to differentiate themselves to compete for customer’s attention and loyalty.
To gain a competitive edge, wholesalers need to shift their focus from merely being “online” to delivering exceptional omnichannel customer experiences. Therefore, businesses should continue to retire older portal style online systems, which lack the agility needed for today’s digital world, and replace them with more modern headless ecommerce technologies.
Headless ecommerce is a way of extending the business logic of back-end systems into customer-facing platforms, whilst keeping each platform independent of each other. This type of framework means data can be created, stored and transferred easily between systems without affecting the front-end presentation and design. Wholesalers should use headless commerce to ensure consistency across all their platforms and reduce integration issues. As wearable technology, social media, augmented reality and voice assistants become more popular, headless ecommerce will facilitate these platforms to work in the wholesale industry’s favour.
There will also be an increased focus on Product Information Management (PIM) in 2020. Comprehensive product information is a key asset for wholesalers as customers become accustomed to having all the information they need to make informed purchasing decisions. Again, it’s all about the customer experience. Businesses will need to consider implementing PIM solutions to help them manage the increasing amount of information needed to support sales channels and meet regulatory demands.