While the wholesale and distribution sector is under immense pressure right now, there are key tools and tactics that can be put in place in order to manage any unnecessary fallout. The key lies in staying in touch with your customer’s needs and then providing them with exactly what they need in order to do solid business in the year ahead. Here are 5 top trends in the manufacturing and distribution chain that will keep you in touch with your customer’s needs and drive your business forward.

1. Automated processing

If your business is still pulsing along on the paper trail, it’s high time you automated. All industries from medicine to clothing are digitising their processes in order to safeguard against antiquated systems which cost time and efficiency. Fortunately, the wholesaler trade is embracing the digital age and utilizing this for inventory control. Here computerised systems track the movements of supplies and sales. Automation is also about using analytics to gain insights into operations and then making strategic business decisions once armed with this information.

2. Omnichannel sales

While selling through multiple channels both online and offline isn’t new to the retail sector, the wholesale sector is starting to catch up. Omnichannel selling refers to selling through multiple channels which all aim at offering clients a streamlined and highly connected buying experience which works across platforms. Omnichannel sales are very consumer-centric and always strive to enhance the customer’s experience with flexible and engaging interfaces.

3. Transparency of inventory and order management

Forward-thinking wholesalers are increasingly implementing new inventory management technologies which empower them to make strategic data-driven decisions. This also allows them to centralize all their operations. All of these require a significant investment in integration-friendly inventory management systems that all interface with the supply chain and customer experience.

4. Moving into global markets

If the B2B market wants to thrive, it needs to expand into offshore markets. Customers will continue to diversify their supply chain and wholesalers need to be there when they do. This will require wholesalers to digitize all of their buying and supply chain networks. This is a hefty task that will also require you to ensure that cross-border trade is effective, as well as implement marketing strategies and payment procedures which work across various regions.

5. Customer-centricity

Even though we are suggesting a shift to digitization, never forget that your customers are not numbers on a spreadsheet, but are people! It doesn’t matter how good your systems are, customers are demanding a personalized experience, and responsiveness in service, all alongside superior product and delivery. This includes a digitised database of high-quality images with optimal searchability. In addition to this, they are also asking for more sales channels which are all fully responsive and consistent.

The bottom line

In a changing world, B2B suppliers need to shift just like everyone else. At the end of the day, wholesalers may be dealing in products but they are also responding to people with needs and expectations. These 5 trends in the wholesale industry will keep your wholesale business in touch with these customers and boost your business ahead of the competition.

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