This is the third post in a series in which we discuss the impact of the digital economy on the wholesale distribution industry. The first two posts focused on the potential for wholesalers to use predictive analytics and the internet of things to improve their operations. The next posts will focus on the power of mobile capabilities and its potential to improve customer, supplier and internal engagement.
Wholesale distributors continue to face tough competitive challenges resulting in a focus towards ways to reduce operating costs and increase overall market share. The digital economy enables wholesalers to meet these challenges leveraging innovation and with that comes an opportunity to improve customer engagement.
Improving Customer Engagement through Mobile
Envision the customer of a distributor, associates responsible for the procurement of products for all stores in their region. They are on the road traveling from store to store, checking stock and item turn velocity. While on location they can pull up the ordering history of specific items from their smart phone or tablet. Better yet, they have the ability to scan a bar code on the shelf to trigger a reorder of critical products or a one-click reorder capability based on prior order history. Moreover, imagine receiving notification of low stock levels on a mobile device before even realizing the inventory requirement. From this notification, they can link directly to view their purchasing history by location, can view a personalized analytics dashboards or they can see promotions specific to their inventory as they walk their stock rooms.
Beyond these capabilities, directly from their mobile device, they can quickly browse other items including upsell and cross sell offerings, view item availability and delivery time frames, and add items to a shopping cart for future purchasing. They also have the ability to view payment status by invoice, view or print invoices, and make payments quickly online. These capabilities are easily attainable customer engagement solutions for distributors. In fact, a mobile solution can provide a less complex and time consuming engagement model than current paper based or phone services, so their customers can focus on their core business.
As a distributor, mobile technologies will offer personalized customer engagement experiences including the opportunity to upsell and cross sell, the ability to receive orders and quickly execute the supply chain process, and the ability to receive payments faster. The benefits to the distributor can include: an increase in customer satisfaction by making the customer’s engagement easier, in an increase in revenue from the existing customer base, a decrease in overhead costs, improved days sales outstanding, and the ability to better forecast product demand and ensure supply is available for the customer.
In the next post, we will continue on the topic of mobile capabilities and the opportunity to improve supplier engagement.