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5 trends disrupting the traditional wholesale distribution model

Multichannel Distribution Specialists

Integrating Wholesale Distribution alongside In-Store, Online and Machine-to-Machine to let today's multichannel businesses increase efficiency and reduce costs while achieving flexible and agile control of the supply chain.

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Archive for January 2014

What are the pros and cons of responsive design?

31st January 2014

A responsive website adjusts itself to different screen sizes so that it looks good no matter whether you are looking at it on a phone, tablet, or desktop.

From the point of view of the site owner, a site that uses responsive design only needs to be built once - you don't need to build a web version, a mobile version and a tablet version separately - so this usually saves time and money and is the biggest advantage of responsive design. Plus, any updates that then need to be made only have to be implemented on one site.

What are the drawbacks and challenges with responsive design?

The challenges are numerous: primary among them is that responsive will deliver more or less a web experience, but reformatted for mobile, rather than a true mobile experience. A mobile website (covered in more details in our November article) that is designed specifically for an iPhone or an Android smartphone provides a true mobile experience that is tailored for the small screen.

Also for responsive design, while only one set of HTML is required, the difference in the stylesheets to provide a custom mobile experience may well be so great that maintaining two sites is actually easier.

If you look as some of the leading retailers who already have extensive and complex websites, building a responsive design would be an enormous challenge. The reason being is that a true responsive design only works well when the site is designed from scratch to be responsive.

The best responsive designs start by thinking mobile first - not desktop first. A good mobile user experience usually translates well to desktop. The same isn't always true the other way round.

This is why so far responsive design has been primarily adopted by smaller businesses or new businesses. This can however change as the technology behind responsive design matures.

Adoptive websites

There are websites that are a mix of responsive and mobile websites. For example the BBC website actually redirects mobile users to a separate mobile domain but the mobile domain itself is responsive in that it adopts to different mobile or tablet screen sizes. For example if you turn the home page from vertical to horizontal three columns of content are being displayed instead of two.

Which option is best for SEO?

In the eyes of Google, does responsive design or traditional mobile design leverage a higher SEO value? I have drawn some conclusions from Matt Cutts video where he explains the SEO aspects in relation to mobile websites and responsive design.

Cutts said that both ways of doing it are proper ways of dealing with mobile traffic, and that they have a lot of help documents available to webmasters to ensure they are doing everything correctly, particularly ensuring rel=canonical is being used for mobile versions of sites. This is because the challenges caused by a mobile version is that your site ends up with two different url’s for each web page – one mobile and one desktop. When it comes to responsive sites this issue doesn’t exist if there is only one version of the site.

Matt Cutts states responsive design is the smarter way to go for SEO, primarily because you can have issues when creating a mobile version of the page if you aren't implementing it correctly.

In his video Matt Cutts says: "In general, I wouldn't worry about a site that is using responsive design losing SEO benefits because by definition you've got the same URL," Cutts said. "So in theory, if you do a mobile version of the site, if you don't handle that well and you don't do the rel=canonical and all those sorts of things, then you might, in theory, divide the PageRank between those two pages. But if you have responsive design then everything is handled from one URL, so the PageRank doesn't get divided, everything works fine."

Hence in conclusion, like many other things in life, I don’t think there is a clear right or wrong when it comes to choose between responsive design and a mobile website. It really depends on many different factors and unique needs of a business.

Setting up Custom KPIs with Comparatives

31st January 2014

Setting up a NetSuite custom dashboard KPI is reasonably easy as a user but it can be quite challenging getting comparative time range data to display. Read what setup is essential in order to display Custom KPI comparative date ranges.

If you want to display comparative data for different date ranges (or for that matter to display the data in a trend graph, KPI meter, or KPI scorecard) then you need to setup the Saved Search as normal. Bear in mind that if you want to show summary data for example sum total amount then the Search must have the SUM type (such as group, sum, or count) defined for the appropriate field on the Results sub-tab of the Search. In most cases this will show the KPI as expected but without comparative date range data.

In order to display comparative date range data in the KPI the Search must comply with certain additional rules:

  • You will need to remove any date range defined on the Criteria sub-tab.
  • On the Results sub-tab you can only have one field with a SUM type defined.
  • You will need to add a date column defined as a Filter on the Available Filters sub-tab.

If the type of search you've selected does not offer a date column as a filter this could be a problem. The only other solution is to try using a different type of search, for example, a transaction search to achieve the same results.

Expanding the sales potential of Wholesale Distribution businesses

30th January 2014

Channels through which to grow sales

The channels through which Wholesale Distribution businesses operate are varied and there are a number of operational areas through which it may be possible to grow sales. These include:

    • Retail - sales to retailers of new products or ranges, or increasing the number of retail outlets through which products are available by acquiring new stockists 
    • Wholesale - sales to other distributors, allowing them to expand their offer to their customers
    • International - opening up the business to distribute or sell products direct to consumers in overseas territories
    • Internet - direct sales to end users

Internet facilitates expansion into retail, wholesale and international

To many, the one with the most potential is the Internet. This is because internet channels not only enable Wholesale Distributors to reach consumers directly; it also facilitates expansion into retail, wholesale and international marketplaces. As many will be aware, most businesses that rely on moving volumes of product through the business are identifying that multi-channel is an essential consideration for success. The importance of mobile should not be underestimated. Smartphone and tablet sales indicate that the trend for online mobile shopping is continuing to increase.

However, the prospect of commissioning a full blown e-commerce presence raises a number of issues. Investment to get the infrastructure up and running; secure payment and an efficient customer fulfilment process may be immediate key questions that are seen as barriers to entry.

NetSuite cloud-based ERP with e-commerce

Many Wholesale Distribution businesses are discovering the benefits of cloud-based ERP as a means of quickly being able to deploy in new markets. NetSuite leverages the internet further with a fully integrated cloud-based ERP business suite that includes SuiteCommerce; an advanced e-commerce toolset for creating and a managing online presence.

NetSuite enables the seamless exchange of data throughout the organisation allowing for efficient and streamlined end-to-end business processes.

High standards of service and in-depth vertical experience

NetSuite’s business management suite provides the basis for Wholesale Distribution businesses to expand their operations. Many businesses have found it essential for NetSuite to be implemented by a solution provider with in-depth vertical experience in their industry sector. With over 10 years of experience, BlueBridge One enables clients to maximise their investment in NetSuite’s cloud-based ERP suite. High standards of service and in-depth vertical experience are often seen as essential ingredients of successful deployment for any business management system.

BlueBridge One provides vertical solutions around NetSuite’s cloud-based ERP business management suite.. Click here now to register for a FREE 14 day trial of NetSuite.

Click here to learn how NetSuite Cloud-based ERP solution can provide you with the tools to quickly expand your brand to any device, any site, any country and any business model.