What's the Biggest Pain Point for Wholesalers?

Handshake, a B2B commerce technology provider for manufacturers and distributors, announced key findings from its 2015 Wholesale Technology & Sales Survey Report. Exploring how wholesale distribution companies are changing the way they sell and deliver products to their customers, the report highlights a shift in technology investments to front-end sales processes, and the need for improvements in operational efficiency.

"In an industry known historically for its resistance to change, developments from today's on-demand economy are fueling a transformation that's quickly changing the face of wholesale distribution," said Glen Coates, CEO of Handshake. "Our report – the first of its kind – takes a closer look at how rapid-fire advancements in consumer technology are seeping into the business world, and how manufacturers and distributors are making more investments in efficiency, sales enablement, and customer experiences."

According to the report, wholesalers cited order writing inefficiencies as their biggest pain point, followed by limited access to accurate information. To address these challenges, wholesalers are adopting digital solutions for sales teams to boost their effectiveness and increase order volumes. Of the 39 percent of wholesalers using order writing software, 49 percent of those report that orders are submitted from the field to the back office in less than an hour versus 17 percent that use manual methods. Streamlining administrative tasks traditionally associated with the sales process is enabling sales representatives to focus more on customer discussions.

In addition, better preparation for customer meetings is becoming a big priority for businesses. For example, 67 percent of respondents would like their sales reps to have their company's best sellers on-hand during in-person appointments, while 61 percent would like them to have the customer's performance history. Wholesalers are recognizing that sales reps armed with detailed information provide a more personalized experience for their buyers.

Wholesale customers' expectations have continued to shift, with more of them expecting a consumer-like buying experience when doing their jobs. This shift has prompted wholesalers to further expand the level of service they offer customers by delivering self-service B2B eCommerce experiences that are designed for the wholesale buying process.

Of the wholesalers surveyed, 44 percent already have implemented a B2B e-commerce solution, while nearly a quarter (22 percent) of them have 40 percent or more of their customer base placing orders online. And 55 percent of those have seen significant growth in their B2B e-commerce channel over the last 12 months. The expectation of 24/7 online ordering will only become more common among buyers as more wholesalers provide the option.

"Those who aren't planning on making these investments in the next 12 months must consider it now or risk falling behind competitors," said Coates. "For those who currently have a solution in place, prioritizing retailer adoption of this technology is key to reducing order processing costs, driving revenue, and increasing profitability."
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