When it comes to the apparel and footwear buying process, it’s easy to see which brands are stuck with outdated tools. Even in 2020, many brands are still relying on paper catalogs and printed order forms.
These older, print-dependent systems just aren’t cutting it anymore, especially as our industry navigates how best to tackle business under the pressure of a global pandemic. Print can be an effective tool in supporting your brand as a supplement when you can also engage your retailers at trade shows or other in-person venues. Unfortunately, that’s just not a reality in today’s world.
Fortunately, there is a simple, powerful solution! Your brand can ditch print, modernize your B2B, and overcome some of the challenges of a socially distanced world by transitioning into a digital-first B2B platform.
You’ll save time, cut down on costs, and provide an ideal experience for your retailers that drives increased success for your brand.
Let’s take a look at the ways in which printing falls short, and how a digital-first experience is what your buyers are looking for now.
This one is two-fold.
First, printing and shipping catalogs - sometimes multiple times - can easily eat up a large chunk of a marketing budget. Print, ship, re-print, re-ship, repeat. It’s all too expensive.
Secondly, it’s also not without its environmental costs. Printing thousands (or tens of thousands) of pages for catalogs, look-books, and brochures is becoming more and more conspicuous as many brands publicly make a large push toward environmental sustainability.
Third, in a world where conventions and in person meetings are on hold, static print materials don’t tell an engaging enough story.
There’s a good chance that your catalogs are outdated by the time they are finally in the hands of the reps that will be using them. Changed product details, dropped products, sold out products, or price changes that occur after printing(and these things change, they always do) means the catalog is outdated almost before it even ships.
To counter this, brands often send out catalog updates for the reps to use. Well now your cost has increased, and you're still suffering from the same drawbacks and pitfalls the original catalog had. Misplaced updates or outdated info once again results in reps using an incorrect version of the catalog.
In short, relying on print catalogs means you aren’t in control of your product info and brand story, and reps don’t have the tools they need to succeed.
Trying to share a print catalog is essentially a no-go. The only way to share a print catalog with a buyer is to print more, there-by adding more to the cost. So unless a rep is present with printed catalogs in hand - or the brand has dropped additional budget on providing every buyer with their own copy - retailers aren’t able to shop and order when they want to or need to.
Digital catalogs, on the other hand, are easily shared, either in whole or in part as needed. Better yet, a modern B2B platform would enable reps to invite retailers directly into the platform to over overcome the loss of trade shows and prospect new doors.
Buyers have come to expect to be able to buy on their own time, mainly because they have so many brands to work with. Technology and market shifts are giving retailers the tools and desire to spend time putting together smarter, best fit orders when and how they see fit. This digital experience is the expectation, not the exception.
All this adds up to one undeniable fact. It’s time to move past print, and build a more effective, modern wholesale strategy. If you’re going to ditch print, though, you’re going to need an alternative.
That’s where we come in.
Envoy B2B helps you make digital catalogs with our easy to use catalog building tool. You can quickly create different catalogs for your various customers or customer groups. It also lets you set up rules for each catalog, such as inventory visibility, product categories, pricing, availability date, and so on to ensure the right customers are getting the right information.
What’s more, it’s quick and painless to keep these catalogs accurate and up to date, because a digital-first strategy allows for a single source of truth for all your product data.
For example, once an admin updates a catalog, all versions of that catalog get updated – for customers, for reps, in the browser, and on mobile. You can easily update images and pricing as well as quickly add or remove products from catalogs or deactivate a product everywhere. Envoy B2B gives you the tools and the control to manage your catalogs confidently.
This, of course, will lead to much greater accuracy in your orders. If your product data, pricing, and inventory are always up to date, your reps can’t inadvertently sell products that are out of stock or priced inaccurately.
The system enforces the rules, so far fewer, if any, faulty orders come through. Fewer bad orders means happier buyers and larger orders, as well as fewer headaches for you and your team.
All of this accuracy and ease-of-use doesn’t come at the cost of versatility or value, either. In fact, because your catalogs are digitally native, they can be shared as PDFs, Excel files, or as an in-platform experience for buyers or sales reps.
A digital-first B2B platform enables your reps with tools that allow them to share directly from the platform. Retailers can then download the catalog or access the platform and start shopping.
By: Tom Rau
Envoy B2B is a wholesale content and eCommerce platform for your entire team. Our tools and services are designed to help you create dynamic content, increase your speed of sale, and bring you closer to your retailers. Envoy B2B provides the technology you need to empower your sales reps and support your retail channel.