Moving Past Treating Your B2B Channel Like A Utility

Posted by Jon Faber on Apr 10, 2019 10:57:00 AM

In Commerce, Buyers, Content, e-Commerce, Go-to-market, Retail, Wholesale, Apparel, B2B, Envoy, Footwear, Strategy, The Fundamentals

What’s the most effective way of building a wholesale e-commerce channel?  We’ve found that many brands still rely on a utility style system. This is a limited collection of ways to capture orders and not much else. It’s an old way of building a B2B, where the tools exist to complete transactions and not much else.

And it means that brands stuck in this kind of system are missing out on a lot of opportunity to grow.

So what’s the best way to move forward and build a pro-active, modern system?  Implement a content & commerce solution that offers up a single, complete destination for all users.

First, let’s look at the old way and the limitations it puts on your brand.

Falling Prey To The Old Ways

This is the Utility Approach. An accumulation of methods to capture and ingest orders. Over time, technology gradually brought about new methods of order taking and were dutifully added on. Over-the-phone orders led to faxed-in orders led to emailed orders. Spreadsheets were introduced at some point to keep track of things as the process became increasingly unwieldy

This steady accumulation of not-really-new systems eventually turns into a kind of decision debt, where old decisions or exceptions made for client needs result in an unwieldy system that doesn’t work well. You eventually find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being the tool instead of your B2B system.

One of your reps is taking orders on paper that someone will have to key in while a customer just emailed an order using last season’s spreadsheet and will need to be called to straighten out a few things.There are so many different tweaks and variables that it is impossible to maintain standards. And so of course, this leads to mis-keyed orders and more instances of simple human error.

But even if you do pull it all off and your order intake process works without a hitch, there’s a potentially bigger problem: you have a lack of visibility into your season. You only know how it’s all going after your buyers send in their orders and those orders make it into your tool. This blind spot hurts your ability to pivot and understand where you’re at with your pre-books

Welcome To The New World

Now let’s look at a modern way - what we call a Content & Commerce Approach - and how it can help you solve these problems. 

First, it’s not just an order capture tool, it’s a wholesale destination. It’s a place for your customers to learn, shop, and order in a complete, standardized system that reduces errors and effort. Suddenly you are not the tool anymore - your B2B destination is.

Second, having a wholesale destination provides you with a single source of truth for your data. Instead of trying to keep all of your business knowledge straight with an ad hoc solution (like spreadsheets), you can manage it all in one place and trust that they will be applied.This is especially helpful with pricing and product segmentation.

Your wholesale destination also gives you incredibly valuable visibility into your season, in real time. You’re able to go in and see where your buyer is at with their order, what they’re considering and what they might be missing. This allows you to pivot and accentuate the best of your line to reflect the changes that you’re seeing - changes that you would not have seen under the old method until it was too late.

Finally, there’s content. The beauty of fully functional wholesale destination is that it brings all of your retailers to a single location, which allows you to educate them on your brand, teach them about new products, and maintain conversations with them. You can lead them through the story of next season’s line and let them download digital collateral or stream a video that you’ve produced to highlight a hot product. As you know, and as our research confirms, retailers will buy more of the products that they are educated on.

In summary, a content and commerce approach to your B2B provides:

  • A singular destination for all users to shop in
  • Managed data providing a single source of truth
  • Visibility into performance during the season
  • Easy delivery of content to keep retailers educated

With so much riding on each of your seasons, and with such complex workflows outside of a modern wholesale destination, we recommend getting out of the old system you’ve been working with and into a new Content and Commerce wholesale solution. Get out of the utility mindset - don’t be the tool and put a tool to work for you.

 

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