With the modernization of technology, manufacturers have more tools at their disposal to serve customers directly — challenging the distributor’s role in the supply chain. Distributors should consider leveraging technology to enable and strengthen their customer and supplier partnerships, creating value that might not otherwise be possible. B2B order management solutions creates opportunities for manufacturers and distributors to work together for improved sales, reduced costs, enhanced collaboration and stronger customer relationships.
The B2B market is restructuring and digitizing, with B2B eCommerce estimated to account for 17% of all B2B sales in the US by 2023. Distributors need technology solutions built for B2B that powers their growing eCommerce footprint, with scalability for even their highest demand. Distributors relying on their ERP are not prepared to thrive in an increased eCommerce environment. ERPs lack the ability to harness real-time inventory and fulfillment data, and their disjointed processes lead to lost sales and backorders. By augmenting ERPs with advanced order and inventory management solutions, distributors can unify disparate data sources and provide a more accurate picture of what inventory is available to customers. With insight into inventory, distributors can optimize stock levels to guarantee fulfillment of orders.
Additionally, inventory visibility lays the groundwork for a successful customer eCommerce experience. A single, unified view of inventory makes complex orders easier to manage. This visibility enables delivery tracking so distributors can create a transparent customer experience, giving them confidence in where the order is and the ability to accurately promise into when it will be delivered.
Even with value-added services and self-service capabilities, distributors still struggle to expand margins, requiring a need for greater innovation. And, with COVID-19, business priorities are shifting to focus more on operational efficiency, with reducing costs at the top of the list. Distributors can use modern order and inventory management technology to reduce costs through several avenues: