Omni-channel commerce has a trickle effect on wholesaling. Smart retailers expect suppliers to offer functionality and features similar to those in the B2C market. Although retailers express preference for B2C-type buying experiences, wholesalers aren’t prepared to do business with e-commerce. This could impact their ability attract and retain customers.
The state of wholesale eCommerce
The 2012 State of B2B Ecommerce study showed that more than 4 out of 5 (88%) B2B buyers prefer vendors that offer e-commerce procurement options. The vast majority (71%) of buyers reported that their vendors and wholesalers lack eCommerce capabilities. Leading wholesalers are taking steps to offer omnichannel commerce experiences comparable to their B2C counterparts. If wholesalers continue to ignore the eCommerce imperative, they will fall behind and become irrelevant to B2B customers.
Wholesaler eCommerce Tips
Wholesalers have many options and features that they can use to differentiate themselves from their competitors and provide better customer experiences. These are:
- Search. Customers can quickly and efficiently find the products they are looking for with advanced search options. This results in a more enjoyable shopping experience that is supported by an updated online catalog.
- Enhanced Products Details. High-resolution product photos, downloadable specs, and customer-generated reviews increase conversions. This helps buyers make better purchasing decisions.
- Fulfillment and Checkout . Wholesalers should offer fast, secure and convenient checkout options that allow for a wide range of payment methods. They also expect a variety of shipping options, including weekend and next-day delivery.
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Three Ways to Prep for Online Holiday Sales
A recent Amazon webinar revealed that 88% of participants consider the holiday season the most important for their online business. ChannelAdvisor’s years of experience in partnering with retailers to help them grow their online businesses would confirm that this is true. This holiday season, Q4 sales spike is not an exception; it is the norm in the industry. The upcoming holiday season could be your best yet, with ecommerce sales trending up and more consumers shopping online.
We see the whole gamut of holiday preparedness in our retailers every year: some are just starting their holiday season, while others have been able to expand to a new channel and hope to profit; and those who are more experienced take the phrase “Christmas In July” literally, having stock, campaigns and back-end operations ready and waiting to trigger the holiday season by the middle of the summer.
Online retailers looking to make it big during the holiday season must have a basic list of tasks and processes. These are the three most important things to remember as you prepare for 2013.
- Don’t underestimate the volume of your order.You have high expectations for holidays sales. They might not be realistic. We see every year retailers that underestimate the number of orders they will receive between October and January. Hot products are the most vulnerable to run out of stock before they can be sliced across the US. For a better estimate of order volume at this time, review last year’s holiday season. Also, take a look at high-converting products from first half of the year. You might also want to consider which seasonal/holiday items you should stock up on.
- Fulfillment operations should be planned.People need packages delivered quickly. People want packages delivered quickly if they’re buying gifts for friends or family members. Fulfillment is an essential component of ecommerce business operations all year. However, during holidays your reputation depends on your ability to keep your promises. You might consider outsourcing fulfillment during holidays to address seasonal spikes. This is a great strategy that you can implement all year. However, if your fulfillment process is not in-house, or via a drop shipper then a hybrid fulfillment strategy during holidays can reduce the load from seasonal spikes.You might consider leveraging Amazon’s global network fulfillment centers via Fulfillment by Amazon. FBA sellers ship their inventory directly to Amazon. Amazon then picks, packs, and ships the item to the consumer. Multi-Channel Fulfillment from Amazon is also available to fulfill orders placed through Amazon, your website, and other online retailers.
- Make sure your website is ready for traffic.Website downtime can be costly, especially during holidays. Be prepared for peak traffic days by ensuring that your servers are ready to handle the increased traffic. Also, don’t perform critical system updates during holidays. If you have to make system updates, do so during off-peak hours.
To reduce the chance of website problems, you should test page load times. Also, identify speed bumps such as image sizes that might be slowing down the site’s performance. You should ensure that all links are active on your website. Remember that mobile is a major player in ecommerce research, conversions and sales. Make sure you reach these customers by using all the channels available. These heavier tasks should be completed well before the holiday season, so you can concentrate on updating holiday-themed content and messaging.
These tips can be used year after year. These tips are timeless and should be used year after year by online retailers to help them prepare for holiday shopping season.