Andrew Robathan, director of e-commerce, TrueCommerce
BW: What solutions do you provide to the wholesale sector? AR: TrueCommerce specialises in digital commerce, providing solutions that help leading wholesale organisations manage and process 100% of their digital transactions regardless of the sales channel.
The company’s suite of interconnected applications cover EDI, e-commerce, marketplaces and PDF order conversion through to product information management and the packing and shipping of the order.
All of this is underpinned by TrueCommerce’s unrivalled integration expertise. In this spotlight, TrueCommerce will be focusing on its award-winning B2B e-commerce solution.
How can it be incorporated into existing wholesale operations? TrueCommerce’s clients in the wholesale sector use its B2B e-commerce platform as an all-encompassing, online customer portal.
Through the application, their customers can place orders that will flow seamlessly into the wholesaler’s ERP, they can research products, check custom pricing and live stock levels, consume copy invoices, credits and see statements.
The solution is highly configurable, and can be set up to allow the submission of quotations, return requests and general customer-care enquiries.
What are the benefits of your product? The benefits are many and varied. The e-commerce solution has advanced promotional capabilities and wholesalers now find buyers will shop rather than just transact, meaning they tend to order more lines than they do through other sales channels.
These orders are at a higher margin, coupled with self-service options, which handle the issuing of invoices and credits, processing returns and paying invoices. This significantly reduces cost while making wholesalers easier to trade with, increasing their customers’ loyalty.
How much slack is there in atypical wholesaler’s operations, and how much of an efficiency gain is possible through embracing the right technology? There is a huge amount of opportunity. Looking at order capture as an example, we see a huge demand for online ordering within most wholesalers’ customer bases.
The demographic of the buyer is changing and there is now an expectation that wholesale business will offer a good online ordering experience. However, a recent survey* shows that despite 64% of B2B buyers researching purchases online, only 38% can complete the purchase online.
This has been a unique time for wholesalers – why should they invest in a new system now? An online ordering solution is no longer a differentiator, it’s a pre-requisite. When we talk to prospective clients, we occasionally encounter an objection (normally from a member of the senior team) that their customers like to order face-to-face or their industry prefers to work online. Almost without exception, these businesses are losing customers and market share to forward-thinking competitors that are embracing the new generation of buyers whose primary interaction is now online.
What changes will UK wholesale see in the next two years as the world starts to recover from the economic shock of the past 18 months? Businesses have to trade in many styles, whether that is B2B, B2C, drop ship or via marketplaces, and there has never been a more important time for wholesalers to demonstrate their value above the wheels and warehousing with technology such as AI helping to provide a competitive advantage. Online is now the dominant sales and service interface – it is critical for UK wholesale to review and invest in their digital strategies and be prepared.