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How the digitization of B2B wholesale will change the future of retail

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Most people wouldn’t think that wholesale has much to do with the buying experience we all know and love today. But wholesale is actually where the innovation should come from. The best way to understand why is to learn from someone inside. In the 1990s, Kristin Savilia entered the fashion world as a buyer for Macy’s.

Fast forward to more than 20 years later, and she has returned to the world of fashion wholesale. Except this time she is responsible for the digitization of the entire buying and selling process. What does this have to do with the future of retail? There are three major trends that, thanks to technology and innovation, can teach us a lot about the downstream effects of digitization on the B2B side.

Related: The Future of the Digital Retail Store

Data comes to the fore

If you’re a wholesaler and your product range isn’t right, it doesn’t matter how beautiful your website is. Investing upstream in digital transformation delivers better results on the consumer side. It allows you to go from working in a silo to connecting with brands from all over the world. Just as consumers make better buying decisions when we can compare products from hundreds of brands by price, material, size options, etc., retailers need exactly the same thing to bring those same products to the attention of the end consumer.

Looking ahead, the successful companies will be the ones that have the strongest data to inform them about exactly what to carry on the sales floor. However, it is not enough to travel from exchange to exchange armed with nothing but a humble spreadsheet.

When it comes to doing business or generating leads, automation and technology can play a critical role. For example, a B2B business that is engaged in procuring government tenders, would find it difficult to access information. In other words, the announcement for a tender notice Singapore would quite easily be lost. With technology coming to the fore, it is allowing for greater awareness of data and information in the B2B industry.

Related: How to Use the Right Data to Make Effective Business Decisions

Transactional relationships are going out of style

Kristin and I both agreed that the commitment to succeed online is changing. Today’s sale is just the beginning. For long-lasting value, winning companies will need to address the source of customer demands. The industry is good at spotting problems, but the real challenge is solving the bigger problems.

For example, the increasing demand for sustainable products offers companies the opportunity to innovate and solve a problem that customers really care about. In the fiery rivalry between Adidas and Nike, durability is one of the distinguishing features. Unlike Nike, Adidas has been recognized as an early mover in sustainability environmental responsibility as an important brand value. But how do you practically approach something on this scale? So many brands and retailers promise to reduce CO2 emissions and increase the supply of sustainable products, but how?

The only way to measure whether you are on the right track or not is to find out whether it is durable before the product hits your floor. Once it’s in your stores, it’s too late. You need to know what percentage of your product offering is moving the needle while you are placing orders. Kristin has made it a priority at Joor to give B2B buyers insight into the sustainability of their range and the ability to easily make adjustments to achieve their goals.

Related: Success is good, but don’t forget to embrace sustainability

It’s time to say goodbye to silver bullets

Ecommerce is only as good as how well you know your customers. You need to know where they want to be and how to get them there as easily as possible. For some, that might look like “Buy now, pay later” at checkout. For others, this may mean sending delivery updates via SMS. And while it may not be for everyone, there is one thing that will most likely always be true: you need a little bit of everything.

By now, we’ve all seen e-commerce trends come and go. Direct-to-consumer (DTC) was to replace B2B. We would all leave brick and mortar in the dust. But the truth is that the future will be hybrid. No buyer and no consumer shops exclusively digitally – they all do it. Kristin believes that a digital wholesale platform should do the same, providing solutions for both the in-person and virtual sales process with global customers. Why? Because whether it’s a B2B buyer or the end consumer, the future will be to provide flexibility and seamless connectivity to reach your audience wherever they are.

This hybrid approach is also reflected in the diversification that brands are embracing in their distribution strategy. Brooklinen, a D2C brand, recently launched a B2B collection aimed at boutique hotels. Meanwhile, the CEO, Rich Fulop, told Retail Dive that the company needs a physical presence and plans to open new stores in 2022.

That doesn’t mean e-commerce won’t be important. But digitization is more about providing options to your customers, rather than a one-time solution.

Related: The Return to Brick and Mortar in 2022

 

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