Wholesale distributors: test your omni-channel sales strategy

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July 19, 2019

In today’s business environment where “good enough” won’t get you far, a quick self-assessment will provide the essential information you need to benchmark yourself against the competition.

Nowhere is that kind of market intelligence more important than in omni-channel sales, where new technologies and shifting customer expectations can be unforgiving for distributors that don’t stay relevant.

That’s why Infor introduced its Omni-channel self-assessment for wholesale distributors, to help you spot the areas where your customer engagement strategies are ahead of the pack, falling dangerously behind, or holding their own—for now.

The rise of omni-channel sales

You’re already in the omni-channel world if you have a sales repertoire that includes several ways for customers to find, use, and buy your products. Yet there’s a vast difference between traditional omni-channel sales and how environments and customer expectations are constantly evolving. However, there’s opportunity ahead if you’re prepared.

Omni-channel sales means different customers interact with you at different times in different ways. And if that experience isn’t as easy or seamless as they expect, they’ll go elsewhere instantly,

Distributors already do business through a variety of channels—from phone, to email, to counter sales, to EDI, online and mobile. However, to match the level of experience all customers have grown to expect as consumers, you need to break down the silos between channels, and across organizations. Not an easy task, if you’re burdened with a legacy enterprise resource planning system that uses complicated, fragile integrations to deliver the functionality you need.

With sections on self-service, order fulfillment, customer service, big data, and technology, this self-assessment tool helps you track where your omni-channel systems are succeeding, and where you might want to invest the next improvement or upgrade. Bottom line, if you’re not providing an exceptional, omni-channel customer experience right now—you can’t afford not to upgrade.

More than just order-taking

The key takeaway from this omni-channel discussion is that it’s about much more than taking the order.

A successful distributor’s website must offer a wide range of self-service capabilities, including product profiles, how-to videos, real-time prices, and availability, and a fast, intuitive search engine with the power to sort through thousands of SKUs.

Over the phone, customers expect your representatives to give them price, availability, and shipping details before the call concludes. That ability, in turn, depends on an integrated system that can juggle inventories across locations, give visibility to components for kitting and assembly, and handle special orders in real-time.

Or say a customer who is construction contractor, approaches one of your sales counters at the start of a long day. He or she is already on the clock and cannot waste a minute picking up the supplies they need for their job. The counter person must have the mobile capability to reach the lumber yard, give the contractor any necessary information, and complete the sale quickly.

This example tells you:

  • Omni-channel sales may have been scarcely imaginable a decade ago, yet have become the price of entry for anyone who wants to stay in business as a distributor.
  • Omni-channel service is not a millennial whim. Customers of all generations demand a multitude of customer touch points. Whether that contractor is 25 or 55, they still show up knowing that time is money, and a streamlined omni-channel experience can get them out in the field at the speed of business. That means the long-term buyers you’re trying to retain are as focused on digital efficiencies as the new customers you’re working to acquire.

Infor’s omni-channel self-assessment tool breaks down complex issues into a quick, convenient format. Completing this five-minute questionnaire will provide a reality check on where your omni-channel systems are good and solid—and where your business might be vulnerable.

Click here to complete Infor’s omni-channel self-assessment

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