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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 March 2017

AI and emerging technologies for wholesale distribution

23rd March 2017

As the world of wholesale distribution continues to change and progress rapidly, it’s important not to be left behind. One way in which the wholesale distribution and retail landscape is constantly evolving is through the ongoing development, advancement and adoption of artificial intelligence – and if your business is yet to know about, research or even invest in the following emerging technologies, you may find yourself distributing in the dark ages.

Read on for five innovative trends in software and machinery that have the potential to transform the way that orders are taken, fulfilled and delivered.

1. The robots are coming

The use of robotics in order fulfilment is an increasing practice in warehouse premises. Improving the speed of task completion dramatically, artificial intelligence allows wholesale distributors to expand their order fulfilment capabilities, improve efficiencies, and reduce costs.

2. Intelligent analytics

Wholesale distributors already have access to structured data, such as information from past order histories, ERP business systems and CRMs. But cognitive analytics are using more and more intelligent ways to collate, and then learn from, the wealth of unstructured data we produce such as social media output, images, emails, etc. Eventually this will lead to cognitive systems that can form their own hypothesis and predictions based on our digital content and habits – Amazon has now gained a patent for a concept it calls ‘anticipatory shipping’, which starts the process of delivering a package before the customer has even completed the buying process.

3. The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of physical objects which contain sensors and electronic components designed to gather data that can improve customer service and improve internal operations. Wholesale distributors can capitalise on IoT sensors in areas such as warehousing, transportation and equipment monitoring to automate processes and improve operations. For example, when restocking warehouse bins, the bin itself can advise of a stockout situation, turning an inanimate object into a helpful tool for stock inventory management.

4. Automated checkout at Amazon Go

Amazon Go is a store concept that is introducing the buying public to checkout-less shopping, allow the customer to walk in, select the staple food items they wish to purchase, and walk away without physically paying. Highly advanced tracking sensors identify which items a shopper has selected, which are then automatically charged to the individual’s Amazon Prime account. It’s the ultimate use of technology for consumer convenience, and could revolutionise the way we are served (or not served) in-store.

5. Autonomous delivery

With delivery becoming a key metric, many are looking to make progress in the field of driver-less vehicle technology. Experiments involving convoys of driver-less trucks have already taken place, and in times to come, autonomous deliveries lead to lower shipping costs and improved delivery speeds. Drones are also taking flight as a delivery method of the not-too-distant future – despite current restrictions prohibiting their official use for business, tests are commonplace, and the next few years could see the technology regularly used as an air-borne courier service, and within warehouse spaces for inventory handling.

Read our full white paper on the trends you can expect to see impacting wholesale distribution in 2017, or for further information on Amazon Go and its effect on wholesale distributors, read our blog post.

The future is now with business solutions from BlueBridge One

Knowing that your end-to-end business processes are operating at their optimum levels will ensure that your wholesale distribution business is ready for whatever the future holds. Implementing leading business management software and embracing emerging technology will allow you to realise your potential; to find out how BlueBridge One can guide you through the use of NetSuite to reach your vision of the future talk to us today.

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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Thinking of expanding your wholesale distribution business internationally?

16th March 2017

As a business owner, you’re used to thinking big – and if you feel that the time is right to expand your wholesale distribution operation, the world really is your oyster. Growing your business in new countries is the next step for ambitious distributors who want to take advantage of a changing market and opportunities for increased sales, and there’s no reason why international trading needs to feel foreign to your company. If you’re looking to go global, BlueBridge One talks you through some of the considerations to think about ahead of overseas expansion.

1. Map out your territories

Once you’ve decided to distribute into other areas of the world, you’ll need to pinpoint where to focus your efforts – after all, the world is a pretty big place. You may look to international markets that are similar to your own to ease the transition, or may choose to limit your initial growth to countries within the EU. With Brexit creating uncertainty over related trade deals, and more political bargaining looming on the horizon, UK wholesale distributors will need to consider how moving into European markets will affect them during times of economic ambiguity, and how they can take advantage of any resulting opportunities which may present themselves.

Wherever you plan to reach out to, you’ll need to research whether the demand is present for the goods you’re offering, and who your target audience is. Talking to local retailers and customers will help you to establish how worthwhile it is to invest in distributing within a certain area, and forging strong local relationships or placing people at the site in question will help things to go more smoothly.

2. Sales channels with a global reach

Having planned the new locations and markets to which you will sell, you’ll need to select the ways in which you will carry out your transactions.

If you opt for using a distributor, you’ll need to source one, or if you choose to control distribution yourself, you’ll need to research legal requirements and distribution agreements in every country in which you operate. You may decide to sell through local retailers, who will need to be approached and negotiations made, or you can sell indirectly to other countries through UK based retailers who run overseas operations.

Online distribution via your eCommerce website ensures that you only need to ship goods directly to overseas customers. Arranging international freight will be your biggest logistical issue, and insurance should be put in place to cover stock lost or damaged in long haul transit. If you’re particularly confident about your expansion project, you may even be looking at opening new retail stores overseas.

3. Lost in translation

When you’re trying to replicate the success you’ve had locally into new areas, you may come up against cultural and linguistic barriers, and your current approach to promoting your products may need to be altered, or reconsidered entirely. Marketing messages may not work as well for foreign audiences as those closer to home, or may lose their impact when translated into another language. Understanding local customs, approaches to humour, things which may cause offence, and looking at popular brands and concepts on the ground will help you to realign the way you try to reach your potential buyers.

4. It’s all foreign to me

Expanding your business isn’t all you’ll need to worry about – you’ll also need to expand the way you think about and approach doing business. Operating in different countries means completely new ways of working, and requires a global mindset that takes into account the nuances of international trading. You’ll now need to think about processing different currencies, creating new pricing strategies, and monitoring exchange rates. Differing time zones will be an issue when communicating with contacts and offering customer service, as well as any language difficulties. You’ll also need to understand and implement overseas tax and selling laws, and customs duties, and be up to date with any relevant regulations and terms and conditions appropriate to every new territory.

Make international expansion less daunting with BlueBridge One

Knowing that your end-to-end business processes are operating as efficiently as they can be, and that your systems and processes are up to date will allow your wholesale distribution business to prepare for international expansion and cope with any economic impact post-Brexit. Implementing leading business management software will help you to grow into a global business and maximise your potential – to find out how BlueBridge One can guide you through the use of NetSuite talk to us today.

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 ways to increase conversions in your eCommerce store

3rd March 2017

So you’ve dipped your toe into the digital waters, and launched an eCommerce site to support and expand your wholesale distribution business. At this point, hopefully you’re seeing a steady stream of traffic as a result of promotional and marketing activities - but are those visitors converting into tangible sales? If you’re getting the hits, but not seeing completed transactions, here are 5 tips for reducing that bounce rate and improving conversion rates.

1. Putting product in the frame

We all like to know exactly what we’re getting before we buy, and it’s no different online. Just because visitors can’t physically handle your product, doesn’t mean they don’t want to inspect it carefully – which is why high quality, professional images are a must. Provide a range of angles and scenarios in which the item can be viewed, and make sure the product is accurately and fairly represented in order to avoid buyer disappointment, and ultimately, returns. If you can include well produced video descriptions or tutorials to provide further information, customers are likely to be more engaged with your stock, and more prone to buy.

2. Reviews and reinforcements

Turning a browser into a buyer can often be managed with the use of reviews and testimonials, as seeing how a product has worked for someone else, and how great the service was, brings a positive association to the shopping experience. When we’re contemplating a purchase, reading the success stories of others who’ve already parted with their hard-earned cash can reinforce our sense of reassurance, inclusion and desire to buy – by going one step further and including photographs of happy customers, you encourage viewers to visualise themselves also enjoying your wares.

3. Convincing copy

Great sales patter isn’t just limited to the showroom – the copy that is displayed upon your website, and used to describe your products, should be professionally written in order to persuade and inform potential customers. eCommerce sites that display grammatical or spelling errors, or flat, unhelpful or confusing text, product information and calls to action are a poor advertisement for your brand, so invest in copywriting that will be accurate, concise, and that strongly supports your marketing efforts. The right copy can also push the buying buttons – whether you use emotive reasons why a product can change someone’s life, or describe something in convincingly practical terms, your writing should leave visitors in no doubt as to why they should make a purchase. Right now.

4. The shipping staller

Many online transactions nosedive when they reach checkout – usually due to shipping charges. Delivery costs that are perceived to be too high can mean sudden death to a full eCommerce basket, which is why such a large percentage of merchants offer free, or low-cost shipping. Whatever your rates, make your costs transparent and available to view across the site, rather than hidden until the payment stage, as the perceived surprise will have many clicking off, rather than checking out. The time in which products may take to arrive can also be an off-putting factor, so ensure your estimates are as prompt as possible, and that a selection of delivery services is available for those who wish to receive their items quicker.

5. Wait, come back!

Cart abandonment is common among online shoppers, even as we reach the final steps towards purchase. If this is happening regularly on your site, you need to identify why buyers are turning away at the last moment – after all, they like your products enough to select them, so why aren’t they financially committing?

As we grow savvier online, many visitors will be comparing products with rival brands even up until the last moments of checkout, so ensure that your prices match favourably, and that you offer deal sweeteners and differentiators, such as free shipping, discounts, gifts or loyalty schemes. It’s also important to review your checkout process and site functionality – is the registration process too complex, is your site too slow or are you using unwelcome data capture methods? Offering a quicker process using ‘guest checkouts’, or automatically following up by reminder email to those who have abandoned their carts can also yield strong results.

Improve conversions with NetSuite

The CommerceSuite system from NetSuite provides the following key tools for increasing customer engagement and conversions when managing your eCommerce platform:

  • Show real-time inventory data upon your site
  • Promote engagement with social media sharing functions
  • Cultivate brand trust with ratings and reviews
  • Connect your product catalogues directly to customers’ e-procurement system
  • Provide B2B payment methods such as invoice billing, credit limits and ACH processing
  • Devise and implement a solid B2B mobile strategy
  • Password protect selected content such as price lists or catalogues
  • Offer real time self-service customer help and processing centre

The only way is up for eCommerce conversions

BlueBridge One are experts in utilising NetSuite to maximise the potential of your eCommerce store. Implementing leading business management software will help you to stay in control and increase the revenue you generate online, a key metric for today’s wholesale distribution businesses. To find out how BlueBridge One can guide you through the use of NetSuite to reach your operational goals talk to us today.

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 ›