Distributors’ customers are an ever-changing group of savvy purchasers who expect exceptional sales and service with every transaction. In an environment of virtual relationships, it is critical to build and maintain the brand loyalty you’ve built over the years by making buying easy and providing responsive customer support – no matter what platform your customers are on.
Investing in a streamlined, user-friendly, multichannel approach may not necessarily help you attract new buyers, but it can help you retain existing customers. And it is crucial today. As younger employees move into purchasing and procurement roles, their expectations will grow to include the use of multiple self-service, digital assistants and live interface solutions. You can’t afford to be left behind.
Here are four steps you can take to build an effective digital strategy:
- Build a solid “wall” of digital superiority around your existing customers. A negative experience could cost you revenue – and customers. Never underestimate the threat of customer flight.
- Use data to improve operational efficiencies. The past is your ally. By analyzing historical buying patterns, you can more effectively predict future needs. This means you’ll be able to operate proactively, rather than reacting to customer orders and purchasing patterns. You can also use data to create new revenue streams through cross-selling and upselling.
- Provide real-time inventory and purchasing data. Amazon updates consumers on where their orders are at every step, which means your customers now expect that. To stay competitive, provide customers the ability to see inventory availability in real time and to track their purchases on their mobile device. Leverage new technology such as chatbots to support this need.
- Consider your corporate culture. You may have team members who resist new technology or whose skills do not translate well into a digital world. What changes do you need to make in terms of people, processes and tools to enable a seamless experience from offline to online for your customers?
Once you’ve created your digital strategy, establish a realistic timeline and then implement it—the sooner the better to protect your customer base today from the Amazons of tomorrow.
Learn more in our free ebook about how to build your digital strategy: The 8,000-lb. Gorilla of Wholesale Distribution: How the Technology Choices You Make Today Will Be Critical in Helping You Compete with Amazon
About Matt Petersen
Matt Petersen is a Senior Director of Industry Solutions for ENAVATE and has spent his entire career in the enterprise software industry. Matt was a founding member of the SAP for Wholesale Distribution Industry Business unit and in 2014, he joined Microsoft to lead the U.S. Dynamics Retail and Wholesale Distribution Industry practice.
Matt has a Bachelor's Degree in Economics from the University of Illinois in Urbana - Champaign and a Certificate in Distribution Management from Texas A&M as well as a Certification from INSEAD in Business Strategy and Financial Acumen.