Wholesalers are facing a new challenge. The traditional models of retailer and supplier are rapidly becoming obsolete, and common distribution points, such as physical stores, are no longer a requirement to do business in the modern economy. Thanks to the internet, you can sell to almost anyone, almost anywhere in the world through business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) eCommerce.
As a wholesaler, it may make sense for you to start selling your products to end consumers, just like how some entrepreneurs purchase wholesale products to sell on eBay. Adding B2C to your sales channels is a challenge, but it’s also a great opportunity for growth.
B2C Equals New Growth
Consumers are so overwhelmed with the sheer number of choices available to them that they are eschewing marketplaces that carry products from a variety of businesses in favor of direct contact with brands. For the consumer, this means directly connecting with businesses they like, on both social media and through retail purchases. This in turn enables business owners to enjoy the cost savings and improved brand management of keeping more sales in-house.
In addition, when you add B2C to your wholesale company’s sales channels, you will gain an entire array of new metrics that can help you understand your customers better. For example, you can learn how many customers are repeat customers and which sections of the “store” (aka website) they visited, in addition to demographic and product information. Applying that knowledge can help identify new sales opportunity segments as well as drive new growth.
To help you get started on adding B2C to your online sales channels, here are three points to keep in mind:
1. Avoiding Channel Conflict
If you want to add B2C to your sales channels, the first thing you will need to do is manage channel conflict. You don’t want your internal sales team to compete against your distribution channel partners. All it takes is for one to underprice the other, and a rivalry is born that could hurt your business. Whether you sell clothing or software, adding B2C should increase your customer reach, not compete against your existing outlets.Some companies manage this issue by selling internationally. This way, you can guarantee exclusivity to your domestic partners and sell your products directly to people abroad or vice versa. Other companies avoid channel conflict by adjusting their pricing structures to include a recommended retail price (RRP) for all their products to avoid descending into a price war.
2. Attracting Customers
Attracting customers is another issue. You will need a strong online presence to attract new customers, be it social media or a great blog, but you also need the infrastructure to support B2C. The easiest way to start selling B2C online is by using a shopping cart platform. There are many options for building a secure and easy-to-use eCommerce site, such as Shopify. You will also need to take steps to launch your new eCommerce site by developing advertising strategies to market your new site and reach out to would-be customers.
3. Centralizing Inventory Management
Another challenge you will face as you add B2C to your sales channels is inventory management. When you add another sales channel to your business, inventory management becomes more complicated. Now, instead of just tracking your wholesale sales, you need to track both B2B and B2C sales. Also, reconciling inventory across different locations can be somewhat difficult, and you may want to look into warehouse manageent software. Centralizing your inventory management system with the help of inventory management software will help. With the right inventory management system to track inventory movement across all channels, you can take steps to ensure you always have enough stock on hand to meet customer demand.
Selling directly to consumers can offer wholesalers new business opportunities to sell more. However, for a wholesaler who’s never sold direct to consumers, branching out to include B2C can be daunting. Start by thinking about how to avoid channel conflict with your retailers, work on establishing an online marketing presence to attract customers, and when you’re ready to launch, make sure you’ve centralized your inventory management across all sales channels from B2B to B2C.