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Amazon Business is on pace for $10 billion annually, and it’s estimated the eCommerce giant will hit $21 billion in 2025, according to analysts at Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. Their increasing reach into the B2B markets is a clear indication that wholesaler-distributors need to adapt their business now or suffer the consequences. To keep up with change while providing your customers with the experience they demand, agility is key.
You shouldn’t always feel like you’re struggling to keep up.
That means adopting technology that provides winning solutions to customers’ rapidly changing needs. It’s the only way to stay relevant. It’s easier than you think. Cloud-based technology, sharable-data solutions and newer, disruptive technology such as artificial intelligence are more accessible than in the past, making these resources available to more distributors of all sizes.
Distributors who don’t adopt technology that can help them stay agile — a requirement today — can expect to pay dearly. Simply put, distributors who don’t will lose customers to distributors that do.
To support your current and future business and minimize the likelihood of Amazon taking advantage of your vulnerabilities, leverage the right technology to:
- Better understand customer behavior
- Forecast demand, predict future purchases and anticipate customer needs
- Know what customers are not buying from you
- Recommend products for cross-sell and upsell
- Anticipate customer needs and pivot to meet them proactively
How can distributors begin to leverage the power of technology?
Choose the Right Platform
Meet your customers where they are, be it websites, smart phones, mobile apps or even face-to-face. Your team can also benefit from exploring sharable-data systemsthat offer real-time access to customer data across multiple applications. With the right cloud-based solution, you should be able to access data that is updated in real-time through your ERP, CRM and e-commerce to gain greater visibility into your business’s operations and make proactive adjustments, rather than reactive ones, and adapt to changing demands as they’re happening — rather than playing catch up.
Make Smarter Data-Driven Decisions
Use business intelligence dashboards to gain a deeper understanding of customer behaviors and drive more value to your most profitable customers. Among other applications, powerful technologies like machine learning can help you forecast demand and create dynamic and consistent pricing models. Together, they can deliver unprecedented insights into who your customers are, how they behave and what motivates them to buy, allowing you greater flexibility and margin control.
Employ Advanced Cloud Technologies
Cognitive services and chatbots are not plot twists in a sci-fi movie; they are tools that enable distributors to provide the very best customer experience. Cognitive services harness the power of machine learning and allows businesses of all sizes to take advantage of the latest technologies. Chatbots can enhance communication between your customers and your team through various channels including digital assistants, emails, Skype or even text. You can integrate these and other new technologies into apps and your website to gather, interpret and better understand your customers’ needs.
The world isn’t slowing down. As you begin to explore the game-changing technologies on the scene today, just remember that the goal is simple: to be able to react quickly and give your customers the stellar experience they’re looking for before they find it elsewhere. Because they will.
Patric Timmermans is the director of marketing for ENAVATE, a Microsoft Dynamics 365 partner focused on the wholesale distribution industry. He has been a marketing leader for more than 20 years after starting his career in technology as an ERP architect. Reach Patric at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit enavate.com.