Emerging competition and marketplace disruptors are forcing distributors to integrate new strategies to help protect their turf and stay relevant. As a result, we are seeing three trends gain momentum in the wholesale distribution industry this year. Our initial blog post explores the first trends: the rapid implementation of e-commerce to improve market time. Vendors who lack a digital branch or an old web platform with inadequate site tools are missing out on a huge opportunity to expand their reach and provide additional revenue streams. A fast ecommerce implementation can be a game-changer for businesses.
Today, let’s review the second trend that is helping distributors build their business; One that requires a central business transfer.
Trend # 2: Greater customer focus with a focus on millennial buyers
In an age where shoppers are being told to “do more with less”, B2B companies can help customers lighten their load by providing more benefits. From efficient online shopping tools and personalized experiences to value-added services they can’t get from third-party marketplaces, distributors can gain loyalty and trust with customer-centric offers. A recent Vantage Partners / Sama survey of 180 B2B companies found that companies that employ sophisticated customer-centric practices have increased revenue by 2.5 times compared to those that do not have adequate customer-centric systems.
Before businesses can integrate a customer-centric strategy, they must first know who their customers are and what engages them. An earthquake has changed the makeup of ordinary B2B shoppers. Millennials have exploded into the workforce, climbing the ladder to become the largest generation of B2B decision makers. According to 2021 data from TrustRadius, only 8% of Baby Boomers are key decision makers, followed by 40% Gen Xers.
Millennials – born between 1981 and 1996 – make up 60% of all buyers in wholesale distribution and are in stark contrast to the industry’s conventional customer base. Their different purchasing behaviors and expectations have helped to predict the need for a customer-centric model. As the most tech-savvy segment of today’s workforce, they are also the most independent, and prefer to do research and find solutions on their own. TrustRadius reports that 87% of millennial shoppers want self-service options for part of their shopping journey, if not more. In addition, 57% said they have already made a purchase without consulting a sales representative.
There are several ways distributors can attract and retain customers – whether they are tech-savvy or traditional “offline” customers:
Gone are the days of the conventional B2B buyer. Businesses must understand their customer base and employ strategies that support them at every stage of their buying journey. Unilever’s e-commerce solutions help distributors create a hybrid shopping experience that gives customers convenient tools and self-service options and still provides personalized services. Our digital commerce platform is full of customer-centric features like a quick order pad, RFQ form and a dashboard where they can provide their account history, track orders and invoices. Customers can view inventory availability with their contract price, assign their own unique part numbers to items for easy finding, and create a favorite item list for easy rearrangement. Our platform can integrate with web chat applications so that customers can get instant answers to questions 24 hours a day. UNILOG’s all-in-one solution is a valuable asset that benefits the ultimate B2B customer.
Don’t take your customers for granted. As your buyer’s demographic changes, so must your business. Learn from them to understand how you can improve their customer experience and at the same time build a lasting relationship. Stay tuned for our next blog, where we highlight the third trend that helps businesses build a unified front and increase performance.