7 Ways to Sell Wholesale in 2021

Account Owner self service tools launched

If you’re a distributor, wholesaler or brand, you know there’s a variety of ways to sell wholesale. Some methods are giving way to newer versions, while some older options are sticking around.

Each business will have their own needs for how to sell wholesale. So with that in mind, here are 7 ways you can sell wholesale:

  1. Outdated Formats (Such as Phone, Fax, Email and Catalog)
  2. Enterprise Data Interchange (EDI)
  3. On a Marketplace
  4. Self-Service Ecommerce (Done the B2B Way)
  5. Full-Service Electronic Sales with a Salesperson
  6. Through A Phone App
  7. Order Portal System

Let’s look at each in turn and go over their pros and cons.

1. Outdated Formats (Such as Phone, Fax, Email and Catalog)

B2B Commerce certainly pre-dates the Internet, and so there were certainly workflows that existed before then and are still kicking today. For instance, many B2B businesses still accept orders via phone, fax or email, and some businesses still have a catalog.

What these all have in common is they’re high-touchpoint options requiring a lot more direct involvement from your team, and many times require data re-entry that can introduce errors into the process. Many businesses continue to offer these options for fear of turning off less tech-savvy customers, but the general trend is to migrate to more modern, tech-forward options.

2. Enterprise Data Interchange (EDI)

As the name implies, EDI is a way of passing data between two businesses in a relatively standardized form. It’s strong with handling recurring orders, accounting/billing, and shipment tracking, all helpful tools when dealing with large orders and B2B transactions.

As an earlier tool in the ability to shift business to an electronic format, it’s still the lion’s share of B2B Commerce being done that way, so it’s unlikely to go anywhere anytime soon.

There are challenges, though. You have to have systems that can talk to each other, which means integration work, and that can have an upfront and a recurring cost to maintaining such communications. There’s also limitations in the format; for instance, because of those integration requirements it’s not good for new customer acquisition.

EDI doesn’t have to be all or nothing, however; businesses can leverage EDI as one tool in the toolkit, along with other options that help overcome the weaknesses of EDI.

3. On a Marketplace

Marketplaces are one area of major growth for those who sell wholesale. Marketplaces like Amazon Business are expected to grow in a major way over the next few years, which can be exciting for businesses looking to gain visibility and sales through this growing channel.

Marketplaces mean more direct competition, which can depress pricing as you attempt to compete. Marketplaces also tend to take a cut of sales, which can further depress profits, which can be especially challenging when some wholesale businesses already operate with razor-thin margins to begin with.

Marketplaces won’t be for everyone, but like for B2C Commerce it can be an additional channel to make your wares available. It can be one way to drive awareness of your products to buyers who may not have otherwise known about them.

Meanwhile, an increasing number of B2B players are looking to own their relationships in some ways, and that means having modern electronic tools that allow for a direct relationship to be built.

4. Self-Service Ecommerce (Done the B2B Way)

B2B buyers, especially Millennials, have been educated in how to order online as a direct result of growing up with B2C Ecommerce as a normal course of doing business. This means B2B businesses who sell wholesale through an online Ecommerce channel should strongly support a self-service option.

This includes the ability to look up product and pricing information that’s specific to the buyer, place orders, request Sales Quotes, and track the progress of existing orders placed. However, it also means supporting B2B-centric tools such as Quick Order, reorder and Buy Now, Pay Later payment options such as Net Terms.

Not all buyers will want to place orders this way, but it’s another efficient ordering option that goes along with EDI, and is more comfortable and familiar to Millennial buyers in particular, who are making up an increasing number of decision makers.

5. Full-Service Electronic Sales with a Salesperson

Modern B2B Ecommerce can also allow businesses to sell wholesale with the support of salespeople, for those buyers who still need a personal touch.

Tools like Sales Quotes can also enable draft orders to be sent to buyers for approval, to ensure order accuracy, before approval, while keeping orders in the same centralized system as self-service ordering.

Your sales team can more easily review the ordering patterns of their clientele to see who’s overdue to place orders, and use the Ecommerce tools to set up a cart or Sales Quote for them to get things going.

Salespeople are sometimes not excited to leverage tools that can also encourage their buyers to self-service purchases, but on the other hand this frees up your salespeople to help more buyers who would prefer handholding, or identify opportunities from buyers that are overdue to purchase.

6. Through a Phone App

Like the Internet, many buyers have become acclimated in some cases to making purchases directly through their phone. B2B purchases tend to be larger and more complex, so this doesn’t always make sense for the buyer, but at a minimum it definitely makes sense for your salesperson to have access to this.

A Sales Rep App allows reps to look up information wherever they are, and capture orders even if they’re on the go. By leveraging a mobile app they can use their own device to capture a sale whenever and wherever needed, without requiring manual data entry steps later.

Ideally such an app supports offline functionality, so even when connectivity isn’t strong, information is still available, and orders able to be created.

7. Order Portal System

If self-service ordering is required, there are two ways to go about it. A more standard Ecommerce website tends to be a fully featured website, with all the bells and whistles that come with it.

But Ecommerce sites are generally designed with a more B2C-centric mindset that people want to browse and shop. Most often B2B buyers know what they want or need, and just want to get the purchase filed as quickly as possible.

Some businesses therefore just need a straightforward Order Portal – a place to list everything as plainly and cleanly as possible, with all of the functionality designed to speed up the creation and placement of an order.

Things like bulk cart creation, reviewing and buying multiple variations of a product, and Quick Order functionality tend to be more front and center, and design is limited to basic structural things that help make it easier to get around and buy.

Ecommerce tends to be more of a replacement for catalog buyers, who want to look at what you have to offer; Order Portals tend to be more focused on transactional volume. Both have their place, and their benefits, in a modern tech stack, and some solutions, like Zoey, will even let you have both available concurrently, with customers assigned to different groups with their own themes based on their assignment.

Sell Wholesale with Zoey to Grow Your Business

Zoey supports a number of the ways to sell wholesale on this list, including Order Portal, Ecommerce and Mobile App capabilities. Request a conversation with our team to learn how we can get your business on a modern B2B Commerce solution quickly and capably:

Talk to the Zoey Success Team

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