In part two of our data masterclass, Tanya Pepin advises wholesalers on how they can prepare for the rise of the machines.
New-age author and guru Deepak Chopra recently stated: “A cyborg future is coming. Man’s relationship with machine is merging and machines are an extension of our own intelligence.”
This sounds wild but it makes sense – more and more we are living our lives in a virtual world. Consumers are increasingly socialising, shopping and gathering information online. Whilst digitalisation has crept more slowly into most business-to-business relationships and wholesale remains a relatively traditional trading model, it is only a matter of time before cyborgisation happens in wholesale too.
So, here are some things to think about if you want to become a virtual wholesaler:
Don’t forget about people: Digital communication is still people talking to people so excellent service, courtesy, responsiveness and human efficiency are vital to making digital work and to retaining and gaining customers. Don’t rely on the computer to deliver this.
Think holistically: Effective digital businesses look at all the ways in which a customer interacts with them and offer a variety of touch points to suit the customer on any given day. This means providing traditional contact media, such as the telephone and face-to-face as well as digital, but recording every way that the customer contacts them as a single record so that the customer is personally addressed and previous contact is referenced each time.
Under promise and over-deliver: This is a great maxim in most business situations but especially here. Customers are wary of new technology, if it doesn’t work simply and quickly the chances are you will lose them. Better to delay launching something until you are certain it will work than be first to market with a poor offering.
Brand building is vital: People are swamped with email offers and digital shopping options – they will still make their purchasing choice based on traditional brand values.
Digitalisation is not just about customer communication: Consider how much more efficient it could be to automate some aspects of your supplier relationships online. Wholesalers can lead the way by creating the template for digital b2b communication in the channel.
Integration of systems is the future: Back office talking to your ecommerce or email marketing system will save time and money. Find a trusted technology partner or staff person based on recommendation and evidence of their past success.
Clean data is essential: A clean customer file ensures you are communicating to the right people in the right way and a clean product file means you are selling the right stock in a way that is accessible to your customers.
Have a plan: Develop an achievable digital goal for your business, consider all aspects of how to achieve it and then create and empower a suitably skilled team to be responsible for delivering it. Ensure that their progress is measured against agreed deliverables along the way and communicate your vision to everyone to gain buy-in.