In these days of big boxes and super sellers, it’s not easy for small to mid-sized distributors to thrive. According to a
Small and mid-sized distributors still have much to offer. There are areas in which smaller distributors with agility can have the advantage. But, personalization of the eCommerce experience is one of the most crucial competencies distributors will need to stay in the game.
Here are some strategies for competing with the big guys:
Play to your strengths
You’re not the biggest, so you have to find areas in which you can excel. Offer consistency across your order-to-cash cycle. Make use of the precision and attention to detail that the giants lack. Concentrate on exceptional customer service, order fulfillment, and tracking.
Offer exceptional service
When it comes to customer service, your smaller size gives you an advantage. You don’t have to worry about hundreds of thousands of orders; therefore, you can devote time and care to each transaction. Value your customers and give them the attention they deserve. To do that, your employees need to understand your customers. Give them the tools to keep notes on a customer’s file, track any past issues they’ve had, note their preferences. Develop an overall idea of who they are beyond the numbers they represent.
Expedite shipping & tracking
Shipping and delivery should involve so much more than “did it arrive?” You want to inspire confidence every step of the way. In the order-to-cash process, tracking should begin the moment an order is placed. With helpful integrations and well-placed automation, tracking data links directly to your sales documents. Offering your customers complete visibility of their orders keeps them in the loop and saves you from having to collect information manually further down the line.
Investing in mobile devices for your delivery drivers is a worthwhile investment. Stay in contact with your drivers at any given time, allowing continuous visibility of the location of your orders. With the right mobility tools, you can change routes or drivers if necessary.
Understand your distribution operations
Being familiar with the details of your business means more than understanding your everyday workflow. Having the tools to analyze the patterns of your operations can help you anticipate future demand and create well-informed strategies for future growth.
Strategize warehousing layouts
Reassess your warehouse layout. Is it strategically set up? If not, your teams may waste valuable time and energy. Is every shelf labeled for visibility and easy access? Do you have your more popular products closer to the front, so they’re easier to get to? What was your motivation when you decided how many aisles to have? Consider how your workers navigate the warehouse, which areas cause frustration, and why. Use this information to determine if you need a more efficient layout.
Pay attention to what sells
You have to pay attention to demand trends. Have tools to run reports identifying your best-selling products. Knowing which products move in and out of your warehouse regularly, you can prioritize ordering those products and add some backups so you won’t run short.
Knowing which items aren’t selling will help when updating your catalog. Don’t risk being stuck with products no one wants.
It may take some maneuvering, research, and of course, the right tools for you to compete with the big sellers, but you can succeed. Well-placed operational strategies can make a world of difference. Be persistent and forward-thinking. Improve your technology and practices, and you’ll eventually see significant changes leading to growth and advancement for your company.
As your operational outlook gets bigger and brighter, you’ll need a software solution that can keep up. You don’t want to outgrow your system only a few years after implementation. Look for a flexible, scalable solution that will allow you to personalize how you manage your order-to-cash cycle.
Now get back out there, and start making those industry titans nervous.
Founded in 2003 as SalesPad,
We help mid-market distributors gain unprecedented insight into their distribution operations, optimize and accelerate the customer-to-cash lifecycle, improve customer relationships, and enhance profitability.
If you’d like to know what improved distribution technology and best-practices guidance can do for your small to mid-sized distribution business,