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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 2016

The multi-channel distributors’ guide to surviving Christmas

12th December 2016

T’was the night before Christmas, and all through the warehouse, not a creature was stirring, not even a worker mouse…

Now, we’re hoping that for your wholesale distribution business, your warehouses are quiet with the satisfied calm of a job well done by the time Santa heads off on his rounds. But if you think you may still be frantically trying to catch up with a backlog of orders that should have long since been received, it’s time to take stock of why your processes are struggling this festive period… and how your Christmas Eve can be more silent night, and a little less sleepless night this time next year.

The countdown is on

For wholesale distributors and multi-channel retailers, Christmas can stand as the culmination of a year’s work and planning – and it’s only now, as stock rapidly flies off the shelves in the run up to the big day, that you can really gauge how well the effort has paid off. It’s also the time of year when you can really measure the effectiveness of the systems you have in place; dramatically increased demand for stock and a sharp rise in the number of orders that need to be fulfilled can really highlight any weaknesses in your operations. And any unwelcome weakness in your inventory, supply, logistics, and administrative chain can cause havoc with the performance of your business, during the very period that everything needs to be running at its best.

Make sure your business is on the Nice List

Picture the struggling business behind our frantic warehouse scenario; that company was unable to fulfil its orders and obligations accurately across its multiple channels of wholesale, online, in-store and third party marketplaces. This was because a myriad of inefficient manual processes and a failing legacy of disparate practices and insufficient IT systems had obscured its view of inventory; with this fragmented approach, there was no real time vision for stock control and order fulfilment. Data reports produced were inaccurate, in-store staffing levels were inadequate, assortments were incorrect and safety stock was set too high.

Ultimately, customers and stores were not able to receive the goods they had ordered within the specified timeframe, and customer service levels and brand integrity plummeted. What’s more, our warehouse worker elves were still desperately trying to rectify the problems long after their stockings should have been hung up.

Making the right New Year’s Resolutions

To avoid another nightmare before Christmas, the company decided to automate its end-to-end processes. With one single overview in operation, reliable data could be delivered to front-end systems, with customer, inventory and order information being fed from one central platform to Point of Sale and E-Commerce software. A cohesive and trouble-free customer experience and true multi-channel approach was now in sight. And the system that saved Christmas? NetSuite!

If this cautionary tale has inspired you to improve the productivity and effectiveness of your systems in preparation for next year, BlueBridge One is on-hand to help you with the seamless implementation of the NetSuite platform.

Let your business hear Christmas bells, rather than alarm bells, next December.

BlueBridge One can help you to improve your festive distribution strategy.

If you’re ready to develop or improve your multi-channel strategy, we can help. Visit BlueBridge One online to see how ERP business management software can help you to scale your processes, manage your back office activities, integrate systems and improve working efficiencies.

Do you need some advice?

Request a call back from one of our consultants today and we’ll be happy to help.

Talk to us ›

How to make your business a multi-channel success story

24th November 2016

Every business has a story to tell. In fact, if you’re a wholesale distributor looking to gain new customers, explore different sales outlets and expand into other territories, you might just be ready to start a new chapter. But how can you scale your operations to a multi-channel level?

Let BlueBridge One tell you a tale of our own. Adapted from our white paper, ‘Lessons to learn on the journey to growth’, this account demonstrates how one fictional brand realized their potential from wholesale B2B distributor to multi-channel B2C retailer.

Soap for Sale is a cosmetics business that started life as a single location wholesale distributor. Soap was sold on a B2B basis to select retailers who would then display the soap in their stores or on their websites, perhaps branded under their own name.

The B2B service expanded, with the company developing a self-service ecommerce portal which allowed retailers to buy stock as and when they required it. To meet this growing wholesale demand, Soap for Sale required additional warehouse space, both locally, and internationally; it could choose between owning its own warehouse locations or utilising 3PL services in order to serve customers in new territories.

With the ongoing success of Soap for Sale, its founders were no longer content with supplying soap just to third parties and decided to also sell directly to customers. They developed their own branded products, and sold to the visitors of their website via an ecommerce store. They also used third party market places to reach more customers, such as Amazon and Etsy.

As their B2C offering became more popular and brand awareness grew, Soap for Sale secured space within the physical outlets of larger retailers, opening concessions in various locations. Products were selling well in physical outlets, and Soap for Sale understood that they could benefit from opening their own retail stores. Over time, new branches launched throughout the country as the model proved itself.

Along the way, the brand faced issues with administrative processes, inventory management and logistics as demand increased, but Soap for Sale adapted to become a true multi-channel distributor. They eventually distributed goods to wholesale buyers, via the internet, through concession spaces and in their own bricks and mortar shops.

Growing your wholesale business into a multi-channel operation doesn’t have to be a work of fiction. Our white paper entitled ‘Wholesale to multi-channel: lessons to learn on the journey to growth’ expands on this fictional account to outline some of the real life challenges you can expect to face along the way, and how they can be overcome with the use of the correct business management solutions.

BlueBridge One can turn your plans into a reality.

If you’re ready to develop your multi-channel strategy, we can help. Visit BlueBridge One online to see how business management software can help you to scale your processes, manage your back office activities, integrate systems and improve working efficiencies.

Point of sale features to improve your in-store experience

18th November 2016

With so many distractions surrounding us all, retailers are having to work harder and smarter to keep customers engaged in-store. Whether we have our heads down browsing our smart phone while in the queue, or we’re skipping the crowds altogether to order online from the comfort of our sofa, retail outlets find themselves facing the challenge of how to make the in-store experience more inviting, more efficient, and more cohesive.

Making sure that customers enjoy high levels of service, and that in-store concepts are interesting and involving are key ways to ensure that shoppers come back time and time again to a retail space. Here, BlueBridge One provides some ways to improve the in-store experience for browsers and buyers alike:

Transactions via mobile POS

With tablets and smart devices increasingly being used upon the shop floor, consider implementing the ability to process transactions upon them. Whilst they are already being used to present information to the customer and showcase stock, buyers are often then sent to wait in line to make their purchase. Being able to complete the entire purchase, from pitch to payment with the same member of staff who has helped them using the tablet, saves waiting time, reduces bottlenecks at till points and doesn’t interrupt the customer’s experience.

Get interactive

Encourage visitors to really connect with your brand while they’re within your premises by offering interactive activities. Providing the tools for ‘selfie taking’ and social sharing can offer a fun and memorable dressing room experience, while setting up competitions can offer talking points, rouse interest and present opportunities for capturing all important data for future marketing activities.

In-store events

Give customers more than they expected when they visit your retail outlet by holding in-store events. Whether these are flash discount days, sampling of product testers, celebrity guests, or talks and workshops, providing treats and entertainment will add value to the customer’s trip to your premises, and have them returning to find out what’s happening next.

Increase efficiencies

A sure way to promote brand loyalty is through great customer service. While we all love the convenience of shopping online, visiting a store offers the personal approach of knowledgeable and friendly sales staff. Ensure that waiting times are short, both to be attended to and to make a payment, and promote the best levels of customer care and attention throughout your organisation.

Great retailing, offline and online.

If you’d like to know more about offering the best customer experience in-store or via your e-commerce platforms, or how to build a cohesive multi-channel strategy for your brand, we can help. Visit BlueBridge One online to see how Enterprise Resource Planning software can help you to increase customer engagement, manage your business processes and back office activities, be more productive on the shop floor, and improve working efficiencies.

Do you need some advice?

Request a call back from one of our consultants today and we’ll be happy to help.

Talk to us ›

The journey from wholesale distributor to multi-channel business: how is it done?

9th November 2016

The journey from wholesale distributor to multi-channel business: how is it done?

For modern brands, keeping up with the demands of digitally connected and commercially aware consumers is a priority. Those beginning life as wholesale distributors are ultimately looking to operate as multi-channel businesses in order to fulfil customer needs both online and in-store.

But how can wholesale distributors grow their operations to reach the stage where they are also offering ecommerce and bricks and mortar retailing?

Let’s take a look at some of the steps likely to be involved in this journey, and some of the challenges that may be faced along the way:

  • Wholesale distributor sells products to B2B customers from a single location
  • Increase in B2B customers call for introduction of ecommerce portal and additional warehouse space
  • Business begins selling directly to B2C customers via ecommerce, using their own website, and third party market places such as Etsy and Amazon
  • Increased order volume and demand for stock needs to be managed
  • Concessions may be opened in the stores of other larger name brands
  • Pressure may be put on administrative processes and working efficiencies
  • When demand for products increases, the brand may decide to open their own bricks and mortar stores, progressing into new locations as and when successful
  • Disparate and duplicate customer data may be obtained from multiple sources
  • Business works hard to provide a cohesive customer experience across their website, chain of store, marketing communications and social media presence

If you’d like to know more about progressing your business in this way, our white paper entitled ‘Wholesale to multi-channel: lessons to learn on the journey to growth’ gives a comprehensive account of expanding your distribution enterprise. You’ll learn how to follow this model and how to overcome common challenges.

BlueBridge One can help you on your journey.

If you’re struggling with the demands that come with growing your distribution operation into a full multi-channel business, we can help. Visit BlueBridge One online to see how business management software can help you to increase customer engagement, manage your business processes and back office activities, integrate systems and improve working efficiencies.

Do you want to adopt a multi-channel approach to selling?

Then download our white paper now for tools to help you expand your operation.

Download now ›

From wholesale to multi-channel: the new white paper from BlueBridge One

31st October 2016

From wholesale to multi-channel: the new white paper from BlueBridge One.

In a booming digital economy, it’s becoming more important than ever for businesses to adopt a multi-channel approach to selling. But when you’re starting out as a pure-play distributor, the path towards eventually selling your own goods through various different outlets, expanding your warehouse space and staffing levels or moving into retail premises can seem like a tough one.

Luckily, BlueBridge One is on hand to help you through this transition with our new white paper ‘Wholesale to multi-channel: lessons to learn on the journey to growth.’ As you aspire to satisfy and engage customers both online and offline, this informative guide will provide you with the tools and inspiration you need to expand your operations without compromising efficiency.

In the paper we outline:

  • The need to be a digitally savvy multi-channel business
  • Challenges in operations, workflows and admin processes
  • How to cope with increased order volume and stock demand
  • Ways to create unified and cohesive retail channels
  • The use of business management systems to keep things running smoothly

We even follow a fictional retail business on its route from small distributor to national high street success. Once we’ve shown you how it’s done, we hope you’ll feel motivated to forge your own journey from wholesale to multi-channel.

Read the white paper today to benefit from our expert advice.

BlueBridge One is with you every step of the way.

If you’re struggling with the demands that come with growing your distribution operation into a full multi-channel business, we can help. Visit BlueBridge One online to see how business management software can help you to increase customer engagement, manage your business processes and back office activities, integrate systems and improve working efficiencies.

Do you want to adopt a multi-channel approach to selling?

Then download our white paper now for tools to help you expand your operation.

Download now ›

Appy to help: the increasing use of mobile and tablet devices within retail, B2B and service locations

18th October 2016

Appy to help: the increasing use of mobile and tablet devices within retail, B2B and service locations

For many of us, a day is unlikely to pass when we’re not interacting with a smart phone or tablet device. In fact, today’s digitally savvy consumers will spend a large proportion of their time experiencing the world through a screen.

Capitalising on this familiarity with, and even dependency on portable technology, it’s no surprise that tablets are finding their way into work environments and retail spaces, as well as in our homes. Using smart devices in a professional capacity and to enhance the customer experience is changing the way consumers shop and do business; here are some of the ways you can generate big results by using small screens:

Raising engagement

Tablets are being seen more and more as an in-store tool for engaging customers with branded content and messages, promoting loyalty, capturing marketing data and increasing dwell time. Shoppers may be invited to enter competitions, post reviews or read blog posts, while brands such as Nike are inviting customers to use touchscreens to create, submit and share their own footwear designs.

Improving productivity on the shop floor

B2B employees are increasing productivity on the shop floor by using tablet devices for warehouse and inventory management, managing manufacturing processes and for ordering consumables online.

Encouraging social sharing

Fashion retailers have been particularly quick to harness the power of social media with highly developed accounts and professional branded content. Taking this to the next level, various retailers are encouraging customers to promote their wares by sharing their outfit snaps or selfies across their personal platforms. Concepts have included providing iPads in dressing rooms for taking mirror photographs, photo booths which automatically publish your pictures to Instagram, and filming shoppers walking a catwalk to generate a video for uploading on smart phones.

Cohesion between in-store and e-commerce

Modern consumers are well versed in shopping online, and when they do visit a bricks and mortar store, they’re likely to have already used the internet to browse for the item they’re looking for and to compare prices; they may even check competitor sites or look up offers while they’re in your shop itself. Because customers are already organically combining their digital and physical shopping experiences, it makes sense for retailers to follow suit; using tablets in-store provides a cohesive journey from sofa to shopping trip and caters to growing demand.

Practical applications

Digital screens can be used to replace paper signage, allowing the most up to date product information to be displayed. Customers can also make use of tablets to check stock inventory, order items for home delivery or locate out of stock pieces, while staff can use the screens for product demonstrations, training colleagues, capturing marketing data and contact details, or processing documentation.

Tablets don’t have to be a difficult pill to swallow

If you’re struggling with integrating the use of mobile and tablet devices into your retail business, or to provide a cohesive omni-channel experience, we can help. Visit BlueBridge One online to see how Enterprise Resource Planning software can help you to increase customer engagement, manage your business processes and back office activities, integrate systems and improve working efficiencies.

Do you need some advice?

Request a call back from one of our consultants today and we’ll be happy to help.

Talk to us ›

What are you doing on October 11th?

9th September 2016

What are you doing on October 11th?

This October, we’re giving you the opportunity to connect with BlueBridge One at not one, but two professional events across the UK occurring on the 11th. Our team will be heading to both SuiteConnect in the capital, and IT Showcase, giving you two chances to meet with our expert teams whether you’re North or South of the country.

With both being free to attend, here’s what you can expect from the informative exhibitions:

SuiteConnect

11th October 2016, 8:30am-7:00pm
Westminster Park Plaza, London

Discussing all things cloud, the SuiteConnect conference from NetSuite brings together over 800 business leaders from across EMEA, connecting them with those looking to stay current with new trends and learn from the challenges faced by successful organisations.

The Keynote Address comes from CEO Zach Nelson, looking at ways in which modern global companies are thriving in the cloud economy. There will also be a variety of demonstrations and product sessions in order for you to see new enhancements and releases first, and to boost your NetSuite knowledge.

BlueBridge One will be in attendance at the SuiteConnect Expo as a professional supplier of NetSuite.

To join us there, book online for free

The Software Business Roadshow by IT Showcase

11th October 2016, 10:00am – 2:00pm
Edgbaston Stadium, Birmingham

Now in its 25th year, the Software Business Roadshow, brought to you by IT Showcase brings together potential clients and specialist software suppliers. BlueBridge One will be exhibiting alongside leading software businesses in the fields of construction, manufacturing, distribution and the service sector, and our team will be on hand to demonstrate how ERP software could be right for you.

The day will also include a keynote seminar from Bryan Oak, Director of Searchlight Consulting. Bryan will be using his 23 years of business experience to cover 7 Steps to a Successful Software Project.

To apply for your free tickets, visit:

www.itshowcase.co.uk/project/birmingham-11th-oct

Shake our hand, in person or virtually.

You don’t have to attend an exhibition to find out how BlueBridge One can make a huge difference to your business. It’d be great to see you face to face on October 11th, but you can also talk to us to see how Enterprise Resource Planning software can help you to manage your business processes and back office activities, integrate systems and improve working efficiencies.

Do you need some advice?

Request a call back from one of our consultants today and we’ll
be happy to help.

Talk to us ›

How can businesses respond flexibly to customer demand?

19th August 2016

Leading analyst identifies technology as key success driver

While shoppers move easily between channels and touch points, keeping up with their demands can be a major challenge for businesses. Now, a leading analyst has identified technology investment as a key factor in retailers’ customer service capabilities.

Recent research by IMRG shows that online-only companies are tending to grow quicker than non-eCommerce businesses, because the nature of eCommerce makes it easy to change and adapt quickly, in line with shopper expectations.

Companies that are investing in the technology supporting their multichannel business operations are much better positioned than competitors that are ‘making do’ with legacy systems, which may not be up to scratch.

Long-term innovation around customer needs is only possible with the right technology platform in place to support growth. In order to keep pace with industry leaders, businesses need to ask themselves some key questions about their current system, and its capabilities.

These include:

  • Do you have a single view of your customer as they move between channels and touchpoints?
  • Is your current system reliable? What kind of feedback do you receive from your customers and your workforce?
  • Can you do everything that you want to do with your system, or do you sometimes feel that it is holding you back?
  • How much resource have you dedicated to mending, maintaining or updating your solution in the past six months? What was the cost and man-hours involved?
  • Are you bolting on new technology to give you greater capabilities, creating an overly complex technical set-up as a result?
  • Can your technical infrastructure scale if your business grows, or has it reached its maximum capacity?

For any businesses that feels the answers to these questions reveal a weakness, chances are that a new solution is the key to unlocking customer-responsive commerce capabilities.

Investing in this solution before it gets to a critical trading point is important, as it allows plenty of time for research and planning, in order to make the right decision.

Multichannel retail solutions from BlueBridge One

For a technology solution that enables your multichannel organisation to keep up with customer demands, speak to BlueBridge One.

As a globally ranked NetSuite 5 star provider, we can give you the platform to run your entire business through one application, to create a consistent shopper experience and give you the complete visibility for even better decision making.


 Find out more about our multichannel retail solutions from the world’s most deployed cloud ERP.

Do you need some advice?

Request a call back from one of our consultants today and we’ll
be happy to help.

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5 consumer behaviours your business needs to know about

11th July 2016

Meeting the needs of the modern shopper

It’s not just the running of a retail or wholesale business that has become more complicated – your end buyer is now behaving in more complex manners than ever before.

Understanding what shoppers want from their buying experiences is vital to success, particularly in today’s highly competitive environment. Here are five consumer behaviours that your organisation needs to know about, in order to maximise sales and grow long-term relationships.

  1. The consumer doesn’t care about channel

  2. Within the industry we’re constantly talking about channels – individual channels, multichannel, omnichannel – but this concept is lost on the consumer. They simply want great experiences, and do not care how difficult it is for the retailer to deliver them.

    Successfully reaching the modern shopper involves more than offering channel consistency; it means making each interaction relevant to the channel the consumer is shopping in, and optimised for that moment in time.

  3. They are more impatient than ever

  4. The tolerance level shoppers have for ‘slowness’ in retail is at its lowest ever level. They want quick loading websites; quick answers to queries; quick service; quick delivery.

    For retail and wholesale organisations, this means having the technology and processes in place to respond rapidly to whatever it is that the consumer requires – from robust bandwidths and business networks, to seamless distribution and logistics networks.

  5. They want bricks-and-mortar to integrate with their online experiences

  6. One of the biggest challenges facing the retail – and to some extent the wholesale – industry today is how to integrate physical and digital shopping.

    The modern shopper does not stop using technology when they enter a store, so why would they expect the brand they are shopping with to do the same? The most successful retailers are using point of sale technology to incorporate digital capabilities like endless aisle browsing, product availability checking, on the spot ordering and ‘anytime, anywhere’ checkout to the bricks-and-mortar environment.

  7. They expect you to know them personally

  8. Personalisation is a big talking point in our industry, and there is huge variation in the level of customisation that retailers and wholesalers are currently achieving.

    Most shoppers today expect some appreciation of their individual value, whether that’s a special discount email on their birthday, bonus benefits for being a loyal customer, or tailored product recommendations based on their previous purchases. The challenge for businesses therefore is to convert the data consumers are generating with each interaction into a personalisation programme that can deliver this level of tailored response.

  9. They are fickle – and WILL vote with their feet

  10. Even the most forgiving of shoppers will tire fairly quickly of a retail or wholesale company that cannot meet their expectations – and start to look elsewhere as a result.

    It’s no secret that customer loyalty is at an all-time low, and fickle consumers will shop around to get the best deal and best service, trying new brands if necessary. Retailers and wholesalers therefore need to focus on listening to what shoppers want and responding quickly, in order to nurture lifetime value. After all, it is much more cost effective to incentivise existing customers than to attract new ones.

Create agile customer experiences with BlueBridge One

If your business needs to invest in better technology to optimise consumer encounters, BlueBridge One can help. Our award winning cloud-based business solutions can integrate online, in-store, wholesale distribution and machine to machine to enable connected, seamless customer experience.

From implementation and integration to ongoing support, our aim is to ensure you increase efficiency, reduce costs and enable flexible and agile control of the supply chain. Click here to find out more.

Do you need some advice?

Request a call back from one of our consultants today and we’ll
be happy to help.

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7 Questions to ask before selecting your ERP Vendor

6th July 2016

Is legacy technology constricting your business growth?

27th June 2016

How to choose the best ERP solution for your company

Every business experiences growing pains, and one of the most common is legacy technology. All too often, companies find the systems that once empowered them are now constraining their capabilities, which in turn is inhibiting their overall growth.

But knowing current technology is not fit for purpose is one thing, doing something about it is quite another. This is because the process of choosing new ERP solution can seem quite complex – and there are a lot of decisions to make during the process, all of which can impact the productivity of the end investment.

To help companies choose a new ERP system that best fits their business, BlueBridge One has put together some key questions to ask during that decision making process:

Cloud or on-premise?

This is the first choice all businesses should consider when upgrading legacy technology. Cloud-based solutions are attractive for several reasons, not least the fact it outsources much of the responsibility. With the cloud, the system is managed directly by the technology vendor and housed in a vendor managed data centre. It is also regularly upgraded to the latest versions with little or no input from end-users, and automatically backed up by the vendor.

On-premise solutions, in comparison, involve greater up-front expenditure, are less flexible, less scalable, and it is generally a more onerous process to carry out upgrades or fix technical issues in-house. However, if the business has connectivity issues to the internet it may be the only option.

Multiple line of business or one enterprise wide system?

To choose the right system, companies also need to consider the complexities of their business set-up. This is because an industry-focused solution may closely match the needs of one department, but it may not always enable end-to-end processes that span multiple departments.

Enterprise solutions are already fully integrated, which allows different parts of the business to work more closely together and facilitate business wide reporting across all departments. However, this can come at a cost in terms of functionality for certain departments that have very industry specific processing requirements.

The decision is whether organisations sacrifice some of the functionality in their existing line of business system for the benefits of having one system across all departments, no integration to manage, and improved cross department reporting.

7 questions to ask before selecting an ERP vendor

There are many more questions to consider when upgrading legacy technology; to help businesses successfully make the transition, BlueBridge One has created a new whitepaper: 7 questions to ask before selecting your ERP vendor.

Download it today to discover what other key decisions must be made to match new technology with your future business needs.

Do you want to know what questions you should be asking before selecting an ERP Vendor?

Then download our white paper now to ensure you make the right choice.

Download now ›

6 retail & wholesale trends from the first six months of 2016

19th May 2016

It’s hard to believe it, but very shortly we’ll be reaching the mid-point of the year. Although it’s flown by, a lot has happened in the retail and wholesale industry – and here are six key trends that have hallmarked the first six months of 2016.

1. Bricks-and-mortar is back!

Technically, the store never went away, as the majority of purchases are still made through physical channels. However, the popularity of being able to see, try and touch items before buying has seen many online pure plays making their first foray into bricks-and-mortar experiences.

Amazon is the biggest player to explore physical channels in 2016, with Boden and Streetcasuals among the other pure plays that have followed suit.

2. The omnichannel emphasis has shifted

In fact, we’re not even talking about omnichannel anymore; leading analysts prefer to refer to it as total retail.

Whatever you call it, connecting experiences across channels has been a theoretical and strategic discussion for most businesses until recently. However, now we’re seeing retailers putting their money where their mouth is and creating experiences that deliver on their omnichannel promise.

3. Loyalty is no longer a numbers game

If there was one defining shift in shopper behaviour for the year to date, it’s a move away from price-driven loyalty to a more enriching experience.

Consumers have now come to expect value for money and pricing transparency, especially as price comparison websites go from strength to strength. Now they want retailers to add value in different ways – whether that’s making their interactions more convenient, or creating individual offers to make them feel special.

4. Customer relationships are getting deeper

It’s not just B2C sales that are seeking ways to engender more profitable, longer lasting customer relationships; wholesale distribution companies are also putting greater emphasis on client retention.

This fits into a wider trend of providing consumer-influenced user experiences, particularly online. ‘Being B2B’ is no longer an excuse for being behind the curve.

5. The Internet of Things is gathering momentum

According to Gartner, 6.4 billion connected things will be in use in 2016, and this is beginning to affect the retail and wholesale industries.

In the retail environment, we’re seeing systems like Amazon Echo completely redefine how we order goods, while Nespresso is leading the way for brands with its connected coffee machine. Wholesale distribution companies are also getting in on the act, investigating IoT and M2M as a means of streamlining their supply chain.

6. Even big name brands aren’t safe

From BHS to Whistles, there have been some big name casualties going into administration in the first part of the year.

This underlines that no business can afford to rest on its laurels – productivity and innovation are fundamental in this ‘adapt to survive’ era. However, some brands have been rescued from the jaws of collapse, for example there’s been some significant investment by South African retail groups, including Foschini. It will be interesting to see how they embrace their new lease of life over the next six months.

Embrace the future with BlueBridge One

One thing is certain: retail is never going to stand still, and that means retail and wholesale distribution businesses must be agile, in order to grow.

BlueBridge One’s multichannel solutions have been specifically designed to help B2B and B2C companies gain a competitive edge in an ever evolving market place.

Want more trends? Download our whitepaper: 5 trends disrupting the wholesale distribution model.

Do you need some advice?

Request a call back from one of our consultants today and we’ll be happy to help.

Talk to us ›

Is UK commerce really ready for mobile shoppers?

13th April 2016

Two thirds of online traffic now comes from mobile devices

Desktop shopping has lost its throne; new statistics from SimilarWeb show that 65% of eCommerce traffic in the UK now comes from mobile devices, a greater proportion than any other country in the world.

Mobile is perhaps the most lucrative channel of all for retailers and wholesalers. In addition to accounting for the majority of direct online traffic, it has a powerful impact on offline purchases. The smartphone has become consumers’ go-to tool for researching products, and many go on to select click and collect delivery of that item, bypassing the need for a desktop or laptop computer altogether.

Even those shoppers who use bricks-and-mortar channels will use their mobile to look up product information at the shelf edge, compare prices online and even sourcing discount codes before purchasing.

So, we’ve established that consumers want to use their mobile to shop, whichever channel they’re shopping in. But are retailers and wholesale businesses ready to embrace mCommerce and its associated opportunities?

Not always, is the simple answer. Some organisations are still failing to get the basics right, like building a responsive website that is optimised for viewing on mobile devices – particularly in the wholesale sector. The smaller screen size means short product descriptions, bold imagery and clear call to action buttons are critical to convert mCommerce customers.

In the retail sector, website optimisation is just the start of the journey. Mobile’s increasingly influential role on transactions is changing the back-end demands being placed on businesses. For example, as we mentioned earlier, mobile is a key research tool for click and collect purchases. The exponential rise of click and collect in the UK – 3 in 4 consumers have now used collect in store fulfilment, according to IMRG – is placing new pressures on inventory management.

Convenience is king for the modern shopper, and click and collect enables them to control when they pick up a purchase, rather than wait in all day for a delivery. However, this has created new logistical headaches in terms of stock fulfilment, as store inventory and online inventory are often managed separately, in two different locations.

Click and collect can create scenarios in which online orders diminish store availability, to the point where ‘walk in’ sales are lost. Alternatively, it can make fulfilment very expensive for retailers as they ship items to the store in order not to cannibalise stock that has been allocated to that location for direct sale.

In order to meet the demands of the mobile-savvy end buyer, whether in a retail or a wholesale environment, businesses must look closely at how to solve these challenges and others like them.

Embrace mobile customers with BlueBridge One

Whether you’re a retailer, a wholesaler, or operate in both channels, the key to becoming mobile-ready is complete integration and automation of your core business systems.

As the UK’s leading NetSuite implementation partner, BlueBridge One can support your complete multichannel needs – from optimising your online presence, to aligning operational systems with front-end capabilities. So no matter how complex your mobile customers’ demands become, you can meet them in an efficient and profitable manner.

Do you need some advice?

Request a call back from one of our consultants today and we’ll be happy to help.

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How the Google effect is disrupting the wholesale distribution model

11th April 2016

There’s a reason why the verb ‘to Google’ is now in the English dictionary. The search engine is a constant companion to online activity, and it’s impacting both how retail is run, and how wholesale and distribution companies support their journey.

For instance, online research has become a critical step in the consumer’s path to purchase, and this is now infiltrating the wholesale journey. By the time a B2B customer is ready to place an order, they already know what they want and when they want it; this is known as ‘The Google Effect’.

Google also plays a pivotal role in B2B trading. It made a foray into wholesale distribution, launching a ‘shopping for suppliers’ initiative in 2013, which was shut down a year later. However, last year the online giant announced the launch of ‘buy buttons’ for web users, similar to those being piloted on social media networks such as Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

This will foster even stronger direct commerce links between searching and buying over the web.

The influence Google has over the wholesale and distribution industry even extends to brand content and messaging; in late 2015, Renee Niemi – Google for Work’s director of the Android and Chrome global businesses – urged companies operating in the supply chain to undertake a digital revolution, using mobility, wearables and cloud-based analytics to reform how orders are processed, co-ordinated, picked, packed and shipped.

Do you want the full 5 trends? Click here to download our white paper.

Do you want to make your wholesale operation more profitable?

Then download our white paper now to ensure your business is not being disrupted.

Download now ›

How Cryptocurrency is disrupting the wholesale distribution model

11th March 2016

Our recently published white paper: 5 trends disrupting the wholesale distribution model explores how to create a leaner, more profitable wholesale operation.

Here we look at one of the ideas in the white paper: Cryptocurrency impact

It’s not just channels that are becoming more interconnected, influencing wholesale performance in the process. The world itself seems to be getting smaller – improvements to transport networks and logistics infrastructure have made it possible for more wholesalers and distributors to trade internationally.

However, this brings with it new complexities; local market nuances such as currency, language and regulations.

At least one of these challenges - currency – could be eradicated with the growth of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Moving to a global digital currency like Bitcoin would solve bottlenecks in payment, clearing and settlement systems, remove complications such as exchange rates, and ultimately make cross-border trading easier and more cost effective.

A word of warning, though: Bitcoin might be the most mature cryptocurrency, but it remains a volatile currency, and it has relatively low market penetration. The security risks associated with using it also mean the one world, one currency concept is still some way away from mainstream adoption.

Despite this, the concept of being able to trade in cryptocurrencies offers significant advantages to wholesalers with an international footprint and is thus a trend to keep abreast of.

Do you want the full 5 trends? Click here to download our white paper.

Do you want to make your wholesale operation more profitable?

Then download our white paper now to ensure your business is not being disrupted.

Download now ›

Great online customer experiences are no longer just B2C’s domain

7th March 2016

3 ways that a good B2B website can boost business results

In the world of eCommerce, B2C has a pretender to the throne. The number of B2B websites being launched has increased dramatically over the past 12-18 months, as wholesale and distribution businesses realise the benefits of being able to trade online.

However, B2B customers aren’t always offered the same slick experience as they might receive with a retail purchase. For some reason, there’s a misconception that it doesn’t matter how good a trade website looks or how well it works, so long as the price is right. This couldn’t be further than the truth.

Optimising the online experience for wholesale shoppers can have a significant impact on sales revenue – here are three key benefits greater eCommerce investment can yield:

  1. Bring in more business
  2. Time is a valuable currency in modern life, and a poor online experience can mean wholesale customers spend longer than necessary trying to place an order. Given that the bar is still fairly low in terms of B2B website performance, this presents an opportunity for companies to steal a march on the competition by creating a quicker, slicker digital experience. An easy-to-use eCommerce storefront will prove a genuine differentiator for wholesale businesses, which will lead to new customer acquisitions.

  3. Increase average order value
  4. Although B2B traders are dealing with significantly larger order volumes than their B2C counterparts (or indeed B2B customers for those who sell to both channels), there is still an opportunity to implement retail techniques to wholesale customers. Investing in an agile eCommerce platform enables companies to introduce special offers based on stock availability, create cross-sell opportunities based on what’s in their online basket, and up-sell at the checkout to improve average order sizes.

  5. Nurture customer loyalty
  6. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a retail or a wholesale purchase; a poor online encounter will hardly encourage customers to come back. In the B2B environment, businesses have the opportunity to nurture positive sentiment by offering loyal customers additional benefits – such as preferential pricing. Customer data can also be used to tailor the promotions users see when they log in, to further increase their likelihood of spending more.

Ultimately, eCommerce can prove a more lucrative channel for B2B businesses, as a good website enables clients to manage their transactions independently. This way, personnel only need to deal with processing and fulfilling the order, rather than having to manage communications with the customer.

Create outstanding online encounters with BlueBridge One

In order to bring a B2C experience to B2B eCommerce, wholesale and distribution businesses need to invest in an online platform that makes the journey to purchase easy – and the fulfilment after purchase just as smooth.

As a leading NetSuite ERP implementation partner, Bluebridge One helps B2B organisations to deliver on their digital promises with comprehensive back-end operational functionality. Not only that, but we can integrate activity behind-the-scenes with a SuiteCommerce online store, to optimise the complete end-to-end journey.

Do you need some advice?

Request a call back from one of our consultants today and we’ll
be happy to help.

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Multichannel shopping is now a way of life

15th February 2016

95% of UK shoppers are multichannel savvy

When it comes to shopping, multichannel retail has become a way of life. A recent survey revealed that 95% of consumers in the UK now multichannel shop, hopping between several touch points – online and offline – in order to browse, research and buy.

For the digital world in particular, evolving multichannel mindsets have created new customer experience challenges. Today’s consumers expect an informative, attractive website that is optimised for whichever device they are using; they want endless aisle capabilities and a choice of fulfilment options; and they want eCommerce to blend with their bricks-and-mortar encounters, through cross-channel services such as click-and-collect.

These higher-than-ever expectations are putting multichannel retailers under pressure, as their capabilities can make or break customer loyalty. Online, for example, more than half (56%) of UK shoppers will consider switching to a rival company if their preferred retailer can’t offer the method of delivery they desire. A third of these consumers demand online deliveries in two days or less.

It has become critical for retailers to offer a compelling brand offering that not only impresses customers – it delivers on promise. Sounds simple enough, but the greater number of channels that a consumer shops through, the more complex the management model becomes. This, in turn, increases the risk of letting the customer down; either by getting the proposition wrong in one channel, or simply being able to connect the dots across the business.

One of the problems that faces many retailers in 2016 is the evolution of their multichannel model. Unlike startups, which are launching into this multimedia, multi-platform trading arena, traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers that have expanded online are having to weave together disparate operations and systems. Many started off by treating eCommerce as a separate entity, but rapidly found that this siloed online/offline approach did not work.

Serving the customer anywhere means being able to see them everywhere – and respond to the demands they are making in the context of their wider activity. Any disconnection between online and offline operations makes it virtually impossible to gain a 360 degree overview of shopper activity, and to ensure all channels are working together harmoniously, in order to profitably meet customer needs.

More than that, with so many companies achieving this integration between activity in all channels, consumers will no longer accept excuses among those who still can’t deliver a seamless multichannel journey.

Give shoppers multichannel flexibility with BlueBridge One

Responding to 2016’s multichannel savvy shoppers means having the right platform to give them the experience they crave, wherever and however they shop.

BlueBridge One is a multichannel commerce expert; we give retailers the technology to unify decision making across the business, and simplify the complexities of today’s trading environment.

See how we helped fashion brand Orlebar Brown to unify its multichannel strategy.

Whether you’re trading in a single country or across multiple markets, we can help you coordinate and grow your multichannel business.

Do you need some advice?

Request a call back from one of our consultants today and we’ll be happy to help.

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How multiple-channel convenience is disrupting the wholesale distribution model

11th February 2016

Our recently published white paper: 5 trends disrupting the wholesale distribution model explores how to create a leaner, more profitable wholesale operation.

Here we look at one of the ideas in the white paper: Multiple-channel convenience

Until now, multi-channel convenience has mainly been the domain of direct-to-consumer activity, but expectations are now moving into the wholesale environment. Gone are the days where B2B orders are limited only to inbound phone call and email orders; B2B customers now crave the same flexibility and seamless customer experience as their B2C counterparts.

One of the key drivers of this trend is eCommerce. Now that shopping online has become second nature to consumers, the level of functionality demanded of a web platform is filtering into wholesale transactions.

In the B2B trading environment, though, creating online transactions is not as straightforward. Whereas there tends to be a single offer to consumers in each market, wholesalers must balance the differing needs of their customers. For example, the quantities required, reordering frequency and even price point will vary from client to client, which makes transactions much more complicated than in the B2C arena.

Therefore, wholesale companies wanting to reach the multichannel audience must invest in an eCommerce system that can provide a B2C-like experience, in order to meet customer expectations.

This is made even more challenging by the growing role of mobile in eCommerce. Mobile optimisation is critical to customer satisfaction – according to Wpromote, 16% of traffic to B2B websites already comes from a mobile device – and so wholesale and distribution companies must be able to optimise their customer journey, from whichever device and location the client chooses to interact.

Do you want the full 5 trends? Click here to download our white paper.

Do you want to make your wholesale operation more profitable?

Then download our white paper now to ensure your business is not being disrupted.

Download now ›

5 trends disrupting the traditional wholesale distribution model

10th February 2016

How Third Party Logistics (3PL) is disrupting the wholesale distribution model

2nd February 2016

Our recently published white paper: 5 trends disrupting the wholesale distribution model explores how to create a leaner, more profitable wholesale operation.

Here we look at one of the ideas in the white paper: Third Party Logistics (3PL)

As multi-channel retail expands retailers’ reach, and online commerce continues to break down national and international borders, the wholesale and distribution are having to serve a wider network of customers, more frequently.

In order to address this, an increasing number are outsourcing operational logistics - from warehousing to delivery – in the form of third party logistics (3PLs).

Opting for a 3PL has a number of advantages for wholesale companies. These include:

  • Instant access to expertise – working with companies that have years of industry experience and best practice
  • Cost-effective – reduces the volume of warehousing space needed, and also the staff and vehicle costs associated with running a distribution network in-house
  • No drain on resources – a 3PL can take care of trading logistics such as managing customs regulations and documentation for international deliveries, leaving the wholesaler free to concentrate on building their business

Such is the lure of 3PLs that the standard bearer for customer-centric delivery, Amazon, is increasing investment in its own third party network. In late 2015, analyst Robert W/ Baird & Co created a report outlining the advantages of Amazon expanding its presence in the global 3PL market, warning that the influence of third party logistics on wholesale should not be underestimated.

However, this approach is not flawless. Outsourcing will always mean relinquishing some level of control to an external party, and placing a greater distance between the wholesaler and the product, which isn’t ideal for quality control purposes. It can also involve greater up-front investment.

Do you want the full 5 trends? Click here to download our white paper.

Do you want to make your wholesale operation more profitable?

Then download our white paper now to ensure your business is not being disrupted.

Download now ›

7 essential ERP trends for 2016

13th January 2016

Innovation and flexibility will underpin success this year

Technology must develop at the pace of the consumer, in order to enable retail and wholesale business to grow their customer base, which means back-end development never stands still. Even organisations that have invested in an enterprise planning solution will need to ensure that they can innovate in line with the latest industry trends – the most important of which we’ve outlined below:

  1. It won’t just be large corporations making ERP investments. When it comes to a good experience, the customer – whether B2B or B2C – doesn’t care about the size of the business. They just want outstanding service. This need, combined with the increasing cost-effectiveness of enterprise planning solutions, will see a growing number of small and mid-size companies investing in ERP over the next 12 months.
  2. Everything will begin and end with the cloud. There will be less talk about the cloud in 2016, but that doesn’t mean it’s a dying trend. Quite the opposite. The benefits of the cloud have been proven to an extent that all leading technology providers will offer a cloud-based system.
  3. Success will rest on implementation. No longer will organisations be able to get away with out-of-the-box solutions. The companies most successful at delivering customer value will partner with an ERP implementer that can tailor functionality to their needs, without increasing complexity to the point where change is impossible.
  4. A ‘rescue remedy’ will be required for roll-out troubles. Unfortunately, not every implementation partner has the skillset to customise ERP solutions by individual business. Therefore, 2016 will see a rise in organisations seeking ‘rescue partners’ to reboot stalled or failed projects, who can get to the root cause of a project’s failure.
  5. Technical expertise will need to blend with business acumen. Over the past couple of years we’ve seen the balance of power shift towards business management personnel, when it comes to ERP deployment. Given the fine balance of customisation required by solutions to drive success, technical decision makers will play a larger role this year – but they must work closely with business personnel to optimise functionality for everyday use.
  6. ERP systems will take on greater mobile capacity. Everything that hasn’t already gone mobile will be migrating towards smartphone and tablet usage over the next 12 months, and enterprise planning is no exception. Solution providers must enable key operatives to access data and make decisions wherever they are, on any device.
  7. New data streams will be introduced. In particular, those that use ERP systems to manage customer relationships may see new metrics such as social media included in their data streams. Social networks are playing an increasingly important role in customer satisfaction and loyalty, and therefore organisations need a means of integrating these emerging metrics into their operational strategies.

Find an ERP system is fit for 2016 with BlueBridge One

One strongly emerging theme for the year ahead is the importance of finding the right partner for ERP roll-outs. Not enough tailoring and the solution will perform below its capabilities; too much customisation and future upgrades and innovations could be restricted.

Globally ranked as a NetSuite 5 Star Solution Provider, BlueBridge One is vastly experienced in delivering ERP systems that meet a company’s individual requirements.

We deploy solutions that meet retail and wholesale requirements today and tomorrow, and help companies grow their software infrastructure alongside their business.

Do you need some advice?

Request a call back from one of our consultants today and we’ll be happy to help.

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