Your B2B Customers Are Shopping Around Online – But There’s an Easy Way to Keep Them Loyal
You might not realize it yet, but some of your best customers are shopping around for their parts online. Your competitors’ customers are too. Maybe they’re on a tight deadline and checking to see who has a particular part available NOW. They could also be comparing prices or looking for convenient pickup locations near their next job site.
The fact is, any wholesale supply company that says, “Our customers don’t buy online” is missing the point. Even if their current customers are happy with the brick-and-mortar approach today, they could change their minds tomorrow. And the next generation of buyers? They will certainly expect online shopping convenience.
The Truth About Data for B2B eCommerce
What prevented so many wholesale distributors from making the leap to eCommerce in the past? The hassle of dealing with manufacturer data: collecting, cleaning, and maintaining data was simply too much of a headache.
If you’re a supplier or rep for multiple manufacturers, then you know all too well how many different terms and abbreviations manufacturers will use to describe products and attributes that are essentially the same. The wholesale distribution industry is notorious for wildly diverse data categories and specification formats between manufacturers. In fact, representing 30 or 40 manufacturer lines often meant dealing with 30 or 40 different methods of describing similar types of products.
For most small and mid-size suppliers, the process of cleaning and standardizing manufacturer data so it all fit nicely into an eCommerce or CRM system was laborious and cost-prohibitive – so much so that the wholesale distribution industry has lagged other industries in B2B eCommerce adoption. However, the cost to complete a traditional B2B sale is also high, and so is the risk of losing B2B sales to competitors’ eCommerce sites.
Standardized Manufacturer Product Data
We developed the Grand Anar information exchange network to change the data sharing paradigm. Grand Anar automates the process of standardizing manufacturer data so it can be shared easily along the supply chain. That is a major benefit according to Leanne Gordon, Partner at Glacier Supply Group. “…for example, all BTU measurements look like 24,000 or 36,000 rather than a mix of formats (like 24k or 24000 or 24,000),” Gordon explained. “This saves us hours of data cleaning and data standardization for our website.”
Note: Grand Anar is an industry standardization product data platform, not a Product Information Management (PIM) system. (Read more about PIM limitations in our blog, Manufacturers: Why Most Distributors Can’t or Won’t Use Your PIM Data Syndication.) Distributors can securely log in to Grand Anar and access product information from multiple manufacturers, without needing to program their PIM (if they even have PIM) to each manufacturer source.
More Profit Without More Work
We’ve solved a decade-old problem, taking the high cost and hassle out of sharing quality product information along the supply chain. No more inconsistent data formats or expensive database outsourcing, and no more spreadsheets.
Wholesale distribution companies who combine Grand Anar with Anarus Stellar eCommerce are realizing profitable results. With a Stellar eCommerce subscription as low as $500 per month, each location can add $250K-300K more revenue a year. That is about 50x return on investment without adding any new employees.
The benefits of B2B eCommerce for wholesale distributors include:
- Open for business 24X7. Easy online access gives customers confidence that they’ve found the right products, in the right location, and in the quantity they need. They don’t have to call or visit the location to find out.
- New markets, extended reach. Unlike old times when a contractor went to only one distributor’s physical location, today’s contractor shops around many distributor’s locations.
- Self-serve customer service. Instead of calling for products specs, spec sheets, installation instructions, owner’s manuals, warranty information, parts diagrams, or whatever detailed information they need, contractors are saving themselves (and the customer service team) time by getting it all online.
Imagine never maintaining product data for your eCommerce site. That’s the beauty of Stellar eCommerce. It is the only eCommerce product running directly from manufacturer data in the Cloud, always updated with the latest product information from participating manufacturers. That means your customers see only current, up to date information on your site. Even if they’re shopping around online, you can keep them coming back to buy from you by giving them access to online product information they can trust.
Surprisingly Easy eCommerce for Wholesale Distribution
The most common question we hear about eCommerce for wholesale distribution is, “How much work will I have to do?” The answer is not much at all with Stellar eCommerce. Give us the list of part numbers you want to show on the new site, and Anarus does the rest. Here are a few other Stellar eCommerce features that make eCommerce easy for wholesale companies:
- Works with most ERP systems, as long as they have APIs to connect.
- Displays product contract prices and quantity available.
- Allows products and details to be displayed with or without ordering capabilities.
- Supports retail/walk-in customers without accounts.