Wholesale distributors rely on strong customer relationships. Making personal connections and delivering great service have long been hallmarks of the sector. But maintaining these relationships will require different tactics during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ability to serve customers digitally is the key to maintaining business viability.

Embracing a digital strategy will serve your customers through these uncertain times while setting your business up to compete in the marketplace long-term.

eCommerce

Here are six tips for digital transformation:

1. Multiple, Easy Ways to Order and Reorder.

“The greatest return on eCommerce is allowing the customer to put their own orders in for immediate processing. That steps up our game in customer service,” said Sharon Doss, Director of Internet Sales & Marketing at Tap of Kansas.

Distributors benefit from offering their customers the ability to place and pay for orders 24/7 while minimizing physical contact. But not all eCommerce vendors are created equal. Look for a vendor that provides multiple ways to order and reorder. For example, Second Phase webstores include Quickbuy (project BOM based procurement), Quickpad (part ID based reorder), punchout, purchase file imports, reorder pad and product configurators (integrated manufacturer product selection tools ). Your store should also offer an intuitive mobile app that supports the unique needs of B2B ordering/reordering.

2. Turnkey Solution.

Especially during times of uncertainty, you need a webstore that is quick to turnaround, eliminates hardware requirements and is built on a common, extensible and always-up-to-date architecture. Look for a platform that can be easily customized for the unique needs of your business, supports your existing functionality, serves B2B and B2C customers, and is easy to manage, and is developed and supported by one U.S. based firm.

3. Flexible Promotions and Discounting.

During crises when supplies are less predictable, it is useful to be able to promote inventory that is in stock or in demand. Offering discounts and pricing incentives can be more important at this time. Also, look for the ability to keep your customers informed about the status of your inventory through integrated social media and email campaigns.

4. Remote Sales Management.

Distributors need tools that allow salespeople to continue to serve your customers, build relationships, and improve your reliability as a supplier -­ even while they work from home or limit their in-person interactions.

5. Product information management (PIM).

A robust PIM is the most valuable resource for distributors’ digital strategy as it is the framework from which you drive the product content on your webstore, and your customers receive a more intuitive user experience. Second Phase has an unmatched B2B/B2C feature set that is constantly evolving to deliver a superior user experience on the frontend while managing 10,000 to 1M+ SKUs on the backend. A robust PIM makes it easy for your buyers to find what they need 24/7 without help from a sales rep.

6. Find a partner you can trust.

Second Phase has more than 150 wholesale customers, we have 16 years of experience in wholesale B2B eCommerce and we are the official choice platform of North America’s premier buying group, IMARK. Best of all, we strive to be a true partner that listens. We provide our customers with a Client Success Manager and regularly roll out end-customer enhancements and backend tool requirements that are unique to your business. Outstanding customer service relies on outstanding support from your eCommerce provider.