In my previous life as a lingerie buyer, I came up against all manner of ordering systems. I use the phrase ‘came up against’ because this is how it was: a battle to place orders. A frustrating, stressful, daily fight that only became worse as time went on. You see the more successful we became, the more orders we placed, and the more successful our suppliers became, the more order processing failures occurred.
With ten or more suppliers all wanting to receive our orders in different ways, I think you can guess how this story ends. I spent half my time placing orders and much of the other half working out who had made the mistake that caused us to receive the wrong stuff. It seriously took a lot of the joy (not to mention the profit margin) out of running our small business.
Now, I’m pretty sure that this kind of thing is going on in a lot of small businesses. You start off with a manageable handful of stockists placing small orders, and you can keep track of everything via spreadsheets, order forms, or maybe a hack of your retail website (typically a log-in screen is whacked on for security and the website is identical to the retail version except for pricing).
But this is not scalable.
If you are tempted to use your current B2C e-commerce site as a wholesale ordering site, please just bear these points in mind. It might seem like the quickest and cheapest option, but it really isn’t.
Wholesale customers have a totally unique set of needs, and they also generate different types of admin. The most obvious starting point is that wholesale customers will generally want to make bulk orders. Take it from one who knows, having to click ‘Add to Basket’ 50 times is not fun and often results in order errors. When you want to place a wholesale order quickly, a retail site feels like wading through treacle. Wholesale customers need fast, powerful search capabilities and specifically designed order input pages. Good B2B e-commerce platforms offer specialist features like repeat ordering, storage of multiple delivery addresses, preferred currencies, customer discounts etc. to make the ordering process even more efficient.
B2B customers also buy in a totally different way to consumers. To make a purchasing decision they need to know about things like real-time stock levels, minimum order quantities, delivery dates and more detailed product specifications. They might want to print off line sheets and price lists. A retail site won’t support key wholesale requirements like pre-orders or backorders, and probably won’t handle volume discounts and multiple order quantities. This makes for a lot of manual adjustments later, and increases the risk of costly errors and plenty of wasted time all round.
This is why we made Orderspace, and if any of the above is striking a chord with you, please take our 30 day free trial and see how easy and efficient your wholesale ordering process could be.
Wholesale and Retail Customers - Are They Really That Different?
What is B2B e-commerce?
How to manage pre-orders efficiently
Getting The Best From Your Wholesale Customers