Wholesale Distribution eCommerce Growth: How Manufacturers Can Avoid Having Their Products
In an age where B2B shoppers are using digital self-service channels more than ever, it’s time for manufacturers to take a hard look at how well their methods of sharing product information with distributors are really working. For years, manufacturers have relied on spreadsheets or “price files” to give digital product content to distributors. But today distributors are asking for more.
As digital sales and marketing efforts gain momentum in wholesale distribution growth strategies, rich digital product content will play a starring role. Manufacturers with detailed product content that is easy to move into distributor’s websites and eCommerce platforms will be at an advantage.
Rather than dabbling in eCommerce, many distributors are now committed to it. We’ve met with several manufacturers recently who are surprised to learn their products are being left out.
Manufacturers have a disconnect. They believe distributors will figure out how to get all the rich product data they need, for all the lines they stock, and make them available in their eCommerce systems. Instead, distributors are either not including some manufacturers products on their eCommerce at all, or they are including fewer products than they carry because they don’t have the resources or time to standardize and normalize manufacturers’ data from hundreds of manufacturers to fit with their eCommerce Product Information Management (PIM) systems. Thus, manufacturers are losing online sales opportunities.
Why “Price Files” Don’t Work for Distributor eCommerce
Having data available to download in Excel doesn’t mean it is ready for distributors’ eCommerce. It is common practice with many manufacturers to have “price files” with pictures and document links on their website. This is a file for distributors to take list price, but it doesn’t solve the problem of standardizing product data attributes so they flow nicely into the column headings of distributors’ PIMs. On top of that, most manufacturer price files don’t include the product-specific attributes that are critical for effective eCommerce.
Large distributors with correspondingly large budgets have solved this disconnect by either hiring dedicated staff to clean and manage incoming manufacturer product data or paying third-parties by the SKU to do it for them. Fortunately there is an affordable alternative to both of those methods called Grand Anar by Anarus.
Grand Anar is the cloud-powered information exchange network where manufacturers and distributors can share rich product content and personalized pricing without the manual processes they relied upon in the past. Grand Anar maps and standardizes all manufacturers’ product data in the network, bringing an end to inconsistent data formats, expensive database outsourcing, and tedious tasks like filling out customer spreadsheets.
A Network That Simplifies Data Sharing Between Distributors and Manufacturers
According to LeAnn Gordon of Glacier Supply Group, an HVAC distributor and member of the BLUE HAWK cooperative of HVACR wholesalers, the cost and time savings of the Grand Anar platform are game changers: “This results in much lower costs per year for 3rd party product data. Another major benefit of Anarus data is that product attributes come in standardized formats (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). This saves us hours of data cleaning and data standardization for our website.”
Once they join Grand Anar, most distributors tell us they want all their manufacturers to get on board. And countless manufacturers already have. By adding their product content to the network, manufacturers not only cultivate strong bonds with their supply chain and gain valuable market insights, but they also boost digital sales by increasing their presence in distributor eCommerce sites.
Malco Products, SBC is one of the nation’s leading manufacturers of high-quality tools for the building trades. They are also a part of the Grand Anar network. “Prior to Grand Anar, anytime a rep or distributor needed content, they had to send in a list of SKUs. We pulled the data, cleaned it, exported it to a spreadsheet, and double checked that all the right content was there,” the company’s marketing services supervisor told us. Now any of their distributors can log in securely and help themselves to whatever digital product content they need. “Not only is it a huge timesaver for us, but it’s a timesaver for our distributors and reps as well.” The Grand Anar platform provides a secure authentication protocol so manufacturers have complete control—and visibility—over which distributors and manufacturer reps can access and download their information.
Anarus provides consultation to help manufacturers determine the content and attributes distributors will need to attract online B2B shoppers. For more information or to schedule a demo of Grand Anar visit anarus.com.