4.5 resolutions all wholesale businesses should be making in 2020
January is an ideal time for wholesale businesses to set goals. We share our four and a half resolutions for 2020 here.
Heading into 2020, what should wholesalers be focusing on, to keep their organisation running like a well-oiled machine this year and beyond? As expert providers of specialist wholesale software, Sanderson has been working with our clients to develop some wholesale business resolutions for 2020:
Resolution#1: Gain a single view of your business
The saying ‘knowledge is power’ is pertinent to the wholesale industry, particularly at the start of the year. With cash flow strained in the post-Christmas period, as leftover seasonal products still need to be paid for, and some customers struggle to pay their bills, it’s vital to gain insight into where operational improvements can be made, and costs saved.
When it comes to business intelligence (BI), wholesale tends to be behind the curve compared to retail, and so 2020 is the year for wholesalers to focus on investing in technology that provides a holistic view of their business.
The more decision-makers know about what products are and aren’t selling, and how the purchase of one item influences another, the better companies can become at stocking the right items, in the right volume, to maximise sales opportunities while avoiding overstocks.
Resolution#2: Focus on retaining existing clients
It’s much cheaper to retain customers than recruit new ones, and as market issues such as Brexit will continue to create a cautious spending climate in 2020, existing customers should be the core focus for wholesale customer service and marketing activities.
Customer retention is already a major issue, as HIM’s UK Wholesale Market Report 2019 has found that more than a third of operators in the foodservice industry alone are turning to supermarkets, online retailers and discounters, rather than their preferred wholesaler.
Greater investment in BI tools will reveal important insights that drive better retention rates. Being able to identify where customer spend is falling, and which customers have stopped buying products altogether, will empower wholesalers to bring those ‘at risk’ clients back into the fold, by addressing their issues and creating competitive offers. Plus organisations can see which promotions are driving the highest level of engagement. And dynamic reporting tools mean information is delivered at-a-glance; no more long-winded flat-file reporting.
Resolution#3: Increase customer spend through a multi-channel approach
Greater intelligence isn’t the only thing that wholesalers will need, in order to retain customers and attract new ones in 2020.
This coming year, more than a third (36%) of the workforce will be made up of Generation Z, young people born in the internet era. This demographic is digitally savvy and constantly connected to their phone, making them far more likely to place wholesale orders via app than visit a cash and carry.
While many wholesalers have mobile applications, they tend to be basic and not particularly user-friendly, offering a starkly different experience to Gen Z’s usual digital encounters. Companies, therefore, need to focus on providing a consumer-grade technology experience, upgrading their apps to enable seamless interactions. Investing in this side of the business now will play dividends long-term, as mobile ordering will continue to gain in popularity.
Even within established lines of communication such as the telephone, customer service associates need to be empowered by technology to support clients better. They need instant access to the latest promotions in order to upsell to customers, persuading them to purchase items that they’d typically procure from other sources. This is only possible with enabling technology.
Resolution#4: Maximise workforce productivity and efficiency
For years, the wholesale industry has been talking about customer engagement, but now the focus is turning towards employee engagement. There’s a growing appreciation that empowered, motivated staff serve customers better, and therefore there needs to be greater investment in the tools that people require to do their job effectively.
The quicker companies can empower staff to pick the right product, get it on the right van and to the right customer, the higher volume of orders can be processed, and the more productive people become. New advances in electronic Proof of Delivery (ePoD) software are enhancing operations by putting essential data directly into employees’ hands; for instance, providing mandatory vehicle check lists, generating delivery routes and collecting customer payment and signatures through a single device. In 2020, we’re going to see continued uptake of this technology.
Equally, many more wholesale businesses will invest in mobile CRM technology in the year ahead, to improve the way customer relationships are managed. Sales personnel can collect information direct from the customer without having to re-key it later, and, as we mentioned earlier, customer service associates will have access to a complete data profile of every client. This way, they can understand changes in their order history and flag any issues that may be affecting their purchasing behaviour.
Resolution#4.5: Protect profit margins
This technically doesn’t count as a resolution, as it’s something all wholesalers try to do anyway, but it’s still worth mentioning it when focusing business priorities for the year ahead.
All of the resolutions we’ve covered above help to protect profit margins, particularly those impacting customer service. Having the insight to synchronise sales promotions with supplier rebates will help wholesalers to make more money on products, and to make sure that rebates are paid by the supplier.
Strategy becomes reality with the right technology
The new year is a good time for a fresh start and set new business goals and investment priorities for the year ahead.
Putting business resolutions together is a great idea, but they need to be fuelled by a solid plan to enable change, and that includes sourcing the right technology. As a wholesale distribution software provider, Sanderson empowers wholesalers to streamline processes, improve visibility of operations and support business growth through a single, integrated platform.
Our Swords software is already being used by more than 120 wholesale and cash & carry businesses, and we’re looking forward to welcoming more customers on board in 2020. To join the impressive roster of clients, please get in touch. We’d love to help you keep your resolutions.