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The importance of innovation and digitisation for wholesalers

Team Waddle  •  22 September, 2021

Without innovation and digitisation, wholesalers risk being overtaken by competitors, impacted by ongoing social distancing measures, or struggling with decreasing profit margins.

We discuss aspects of innovation and digitisation that can help your wholesale business thrive.

Transitioning to eCommerce

Thanks to lockdowns and social distancing, the ways people do business are rapidly becoming remote and online. But this isn’t entirely due to the flow-on effects of the pandemic. Over the last three decades, retail consumers have slowly but surely started to take advantage of the convenience that online ordering offers, with the demand for eCommerce booming in 2020. However, the wholesale industry’s adaptation of eCommerce and online platforms has moved at a much slower rate — until COVID-19 forced the issue. The pandemic certainly sped up the urgency for the adoption and transition to digitalisation.

Balance online ordering with a personalised touch

While online ordering works well for B2C businesses, online B2B transactions are slightly more complex. Your customers enjoy the convenience of ordering online, but this doesn’t replace the personalisation and value a dedicated sales representative adds. While your customers are looking for convenience, social distance, and the personalised expertise of a sales rep, the online ordering experience needs to be done in a way that allows them to access the expertise of a human if they need it.

Empowering your customers with information regarding availability, pricing and order tracking allows them to take a more proactive and independent approach to their orders. However, it never completely removes the need for the personalised touch a human adds to the purchasing experience.

Expand your offering to combat increased competition

Competition among the wholesale industry is ever-increasing, with some big names like Amazon joining the party in Australia. Offering incentives to your customers is a great way to remain competitive. Incentives such as discounts, customer loyalty programs, and sales-based awards can heavily influence your customers’ decisions to choose you as their wholesaler.

Some wholesalers are taking their offering even further to provide a tremendous amount of value to their customers.

Help your customers digitise

Steps to take:

With ongoing lockdowns, many of your customers are struggling to sell products to the consumer. If your customers' stock isn’t moving, this means eventually your stock will stop moving.

  • Offer IT services to your customers. An innovative approach that some wholesalers in the US have adopted is to expand their services to include IT services and website design. By helping their customers develop an eCommerce platform, they’re ensuring there’s a way to keep stock moving through to the end consumer while adding a valuable service that helps to directly increase customer loyalty.
  • Explore dropshipping as a service. Dropshipping allows retailers to sell goods without ever physically being in contact with the product. The customer simply places an order online with the retailer, then the product is shipped directly from the manufacturer or a wholesaler. With the decline in brick and mortar shops due to the uptake of eCommerce and flow-on financial and social distancing impacts of the pandemic, dropshipping is gaining in popularity. Helping retailers facilitate dropshipping could help you gain a whole new customer base, and could help your existing customers move to an efficient form of business digitisation.

Increase safety and efficiency with automation and robotics

Despite the move toward digitisation across industries, the paper trail in the wholesale sector is notoriously long. Managing inventory and logistics is a time-consuming process — not to mention very error-prone — when technology is not utilised. Digitally tracking inventory with wireless technology has proven invaluable for accurately keeping track of the physical location of inventory so that staff can focus their time and energy on more value-adding activities. Embracing technology and automation means your facility is more organised, more efficient, and safer.

Inventory management software

Increasing efficiency with automation and digitisation can sound like an expensive exercise, but it really doesn’t have to be. Utilising inventory management software is a cost-effective way to quickly and easily manage your inventory. It gives you the ability to seamlessly add items to invoices for fast invoicing, keep track of stock levels in real-time, and view sales reports to identify business opportunities.

A small investment in inventory management software could see your business improve profitability and efficiency by a huge amount.

Utilising robotics

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) helps to automate and improve physical processes. Robotics helps to save time, increase safety, and allow employees to focus on more significant tasks. Many areas can be enhanced with RPA, to name a few:

  • locate, retrieve, and transport inventory,
  • inventory stocktake,
  • retrieve stock in dangerous locations (such as high shelves),
  • help uphold social distancing by allowing staff to stick to their allocated areas while robots or drones do the handy work.

It’s a good idea to use a consultant when considering the feasibility of technology and robotics in your facility. While technology can help increase output, improve processes, and improve profit margins, it’s not always cost-effective or relevant to everyone. Finding a technological solution to suit your individual business needs is essential.

Use invoice finance to increase working capital

Innovation, digitisation, technology and robotics are the way of the future (and the present!), but they come at a cost. If you’d love to make some changes to your wholesale business, but your cash flow or working capital won’t allow you to, we have a solution.

We offer a revolving line of credit based on the value of outstanding invoices you’ve issued to your customers. Our innovative platform integrates seamlessly with your accounting software, such as Xero, MYOB or QuickBooks. The available balance stays in sync with your invoice ledger, so you'll see it increase as you raise more invoices. And as your customers pay their invoices, your loan is repaid.

If you’re interested in Waddle invoice finance, visit our homepage to learn more or click Apply to get started.

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