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How Wholesale Distributors Can Stand Out from Rising Competition

“Cut out the middle-man” is the last phrase wholesale distribution companies want to hear. The growing threat of the D2C model, however, is putting the relevance of distributors into question.

Manufacturers are constantly looking for ways to increase profit margins. However, the age-old model of manufacturers selling in bulk to wholesale and distribution companies who sell to retailers puts customers through a few rounds of mark-ups. These further price increases add to the end purchase price and can eat into manufacturer margins.

eCommerce saw massive acceleration due to COVID-19. Consumers around the globe took up digital shopping amidst lockdowns and physical restrictions. Online retail sales accounted for 19% of total retail sales in all markets in 2020, up from 16% the year prior, according to a recent UNCTAD report.

These shoppers aren’t looking back, either. Global eCommerce is expected to reach USD 1 trillion for the first time in 2022, as reported in the Adobe Digital Economy Index report.

What is Wholesale Competition?

Wholesale competition refers to the rivalry among businesses that sell goods in large quantities to retailers, rather than directly to consumers. This competition is pivotal in driving down prices, improving product quality, and fostering innovation within the marketplace. It plays a crucial role in the supply chain, affecting the dynamics between manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, and ultimately, consumers. Wholesale competition encourages efficiency and cost-effectiveness, impacting the overall health of the economy by influencing the availability, affordability, and diversity of products available to the end consumer.

A hyper-competitive environment for the wholesale market

The increase in online activity has made a more competitive market environment than ever for wholesale distributors and sellers. For example, 53% of regular shoppers bought from more than 9 sources in 2020 (compared to 36% in 2019). As consumers become accustomed to buying from online-only businesses, marketplaces, and retailers offering exciting new eCommerce experiences, the stores you already sell and supply to are now fighting for customers’ attention.

D2C (Direct to Consumer) is also a growing threat to wholesale distributors. Manufacturers are building distribution capabilities to cut out the middle-man and boost profits. Facing ongoing supply chain issues, brands uncovered new ways to reach customers, and in 2020, the US experienced 46% D2C growth.

One example of the D2C manufacturer model seeing colossal success is Nike. In just 10 years, the company’s D2C model has grown from contributing 13.5% to 33.1%, nearly a third of its total revenue.

Wholesale distributors need to be more competitive than ever and create points of difference to stand out from wholesale competition and competing channels. The delivery of first-class fulfilment, better customer experiences, and exceeding customer expectations can help distributors stay relevant and have market power to create sustained competitive advantage.

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Fulfilment is the new differentiator in wholesale competition

Fulfilment is a significant challenge for which many manufacturers aren’t yet ready. If not managed correctly, the distribution of products can quickly pull down a brand’s reputation. Wholesalers that create fast, class-leading fulfilment processes can demonstrate real value within the supply chain and truly stand out. By enabling faster replenishment, wholesalers can help sellers increase their position while decreasing their required stock on hand. To better support sellers, wholesalers need to minimise receipting, processing, and transportation times. Uninterrupted supply flowing from sellers to consumers leaves a positive impression on both retailers and brands.

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Demand fluctuations and unexpected changes have created additional fulfilment challenges. This was illustrated by the impacts of lockdowns in Victoria, Australia. The usual peak for online purchases starts around October. In 2020, however, 36% of the year’s online retail purchases happened between July to October due to state lockdowns. React quickly to changes, and you’ll be a critical link for sellers to keep fulfilling consumers orders with limited delays.

While ongoing supply chain issues and rapid changes in market structure have impacted fulfilment, it also represents an investment opportunity for wholesale distributors. Those who lead the way with fast, reliable order fulfilment can make a lasting impression on customers.

Reduce stock turn-around through accuracy and efficiency

To increase warehouse efficiency, review and assess the systems and processes you have in place. You need to ensure the accuracy of inventory and streamline processes to reduce stock turn-around time. Key considerations to review include:

  • Optimised replenishment to set preferred stock levels and reorder points
  • Multi-location planning to balance supply and demand across geographies
  • Cycle counting for regular checks that maintain inventory accuracy
  • Traceability that includes full tracking by lot or serial numbers
  • Tracking of related information of products and assembly items and related transactions
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Personalised pricing

When customers know they’re getting the best pricing the first time, they have confidence in the reliability of you as a wholesaler and investment in your relationship with them. Personalised pricing can include:

Quantity prices and price breaks

Offer lower price breaks based on set product quantities. Price breaks incentive customers to order in larger amounts and help protect your margin on smaller orders.

Pricing that rewards customers

Set special pricing for strategic customer relationships. You may want to reward loyal customers with lower pricing the longer they’ve been with you or for those who order more regularly.

Limited promotional pricing

If you want specific customers to sell more of particular product lines, try running a time-bound promotion. Let customers maximise their margin on product lines while selling more of those lines.

Determine reporting requirements

It’s crucial to optimise stock based on market trends and changes. The last thing you want is over-ordered stock taking up valuable warehouse space and becoming a cost to the business. Conversely, under-ordered stock creates bottlenecks, fulfilment delays, and lost market opportunities.

Regular reporting will keep you across changing supply and demand trends. Compare trends to previous years to identify peak periods across different product lines. Also, note short-term trends emerging where lockdowns, or eased restrictions, affect the usual product demands. Inventory and supply chain management systems bring live visibility of your stock position, backorders and commitments with real-time dashboards that keep you informed.

Demand planning, monitoring and forecasting, included in some cloud ERP inventory systems, lets you assess and estimate stock requirements with far greater accuracy. These systems also bring minimum and maximum reorder levels that can be set and triggered automatically, keeping your inventory at optimum levels.

Experiences that make you remarkable and increase your competitiveness

Store visits to sellers were one more aspect of the wholesale distribution model interrupted when COVID-19 hit. Physically meeting with customers isn’t the only way to build strong relationships, however. Whether customers are working from home or back in physical stores, relationships are about value and experience.

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You can add more value to every conversation by starting from a place of information. Customer purchase history, account history, and records of past interactions give you a solid baseline to frame more valuable conversations. A proactive approach to addressing any past issues or suggesting new product lines based on purchase history will make you stand out. ERP systems bring data together from across the business, including finance, warehousing, sales and CRM, and more. Learn more here about how ERP is helping wholesalers deliver better experiences and amplify their success.

Your expertise is another value-add that customers appreciate. Information about product trends and upcoming releases can keep customers at the forefront. Your experiences with product quality, performance, market popularity, and competition will also get you remembered as the wholesaler with which customers want to interact.

In the eCommerce boom era, customers are now expecting consumer-like experiences. A modern eCommerce portal for sellers to view live product, pricing, and stock information whenever they need to can leave a lasting impression of you as a preferred wholesaler.

Leveraging Advanced Technologies for Competitive Edge

In the fiercely competitive wholesale distribution sector, embracing advanced technologies and data analytics is pivotal. Distributors can significantly benefit from integrating cloud-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems to streamline inventory management, offering real-time insights into stock levels and demand forecasting. Personalizing customer experiences through data-driven insights enhances customer satisfaction and loyalty. Moreover, leveraging analytics for precise demand forecasting can optimize stock levels, reducing excess inventory and improving efficiency. Adopting such technologies not only enhances operational efficiency but also provides a sustainable competitive advantage in today’s digital-first marketplace.

The foundations to stand out from competition

The rapid adoption of online shopping services by consumers and D2C and service models being explored by manufacturers were existing trends that accelerated in 2020.

Wholesale distributors need to be more competitive than ever, offer more services and better customer experiences, and examine markets where the can operate in and gain a competitive advantage.

Every wholesale distributor should be equipped to amplify their success; this starts with the right foundations. An inventory management and fulfilment system can be a good place to start. A cloud ERP system, however, takes things a step further to future-proof operations. ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) is a consolidated system that includes inventory, warehousing, supply chain, procurement, sales and CRM, marketing, and more.

The right technology partner for an ERP implementation will take the time to understand your current systems and processes and create an individual plan for your business needs.

If your current systems are creating bottlenecks, slowing down fulfilment, or leaving you with doubts over your performance or the reliability of your inventory accuracy, it’s time to build a better foundation.

DWR delivers the tools to amplify success; by bringing the power of the right ERP technology, process framework, and team of business experts together. Talk to an ERP expert about what your ideal wholesale distribution operations look like.

Start standing out from the competition, and take the next step to leap ahead.

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Wholesale Competition FAQs

What is the meaning of wholesale market?

Wholesale is business that buys goods from producers or manufacturers in large quantities for retail customers.

What is the difference between a wholesaler and a retailer of electricity?

The wholesale nation electric market is a market in which the generators supply electricity and the retailer purchases the energy. Retailers sell electricity in the same way that consumers buy them. The wholesale market for electricity is sold on the NEM spot market and the contracts market.

What is a wholesale group?

Wholesale companies can not be produced. They distribute the products. It purchases bulk goods for low prices at the factory and sells them to retailers. Wholesalers also offer retailers savings when they purchase at wholesale prices.

What is the wholesale electricity market in Australia?

NEM is an electricity wholesale marketplace in which generator manufacturers and dealers sell electricity in Australian territory. It links six east and south states and a total of 80% of Australia’s electrical consumption. The Northern Territory is a member of the NEM.

What is the meaning of the wholesale market?

The wholesale market operates as a crucial hub for the distribution of goods, selling products in large quantities at discounted rates mainly to retailers or professional buyers, not directly to end consumers. This setup facilitates the movement of goods through the supply chain, allowing retailers to stock up on inventory at lower costs. It’s a foundational element of the global trade system, enabling manufacturers to distribute their products more efficiently and retailers to access a broader range of goods.

What is the wholesale electricity market in Australia?

The wholesale electricity market in Australia is a dynamic and complex system where electricity is traded in bulk. Managed by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), this market plays a pivotal role in ensuring the stability and reliability of electricity supply across the country. It allows for the efficient distribution of electricity from generators to retailers, who then supply it to homes and businesses. This market is essential for matching electricity production with consumption and for setting the price of electricity in the national market.

What is the difference between a wholesaler and a retailer of electricity?

A wholesaler of electricity operates by purchasing large quantities of power from generators and selling it to retailers or large consumers, such as industrial plants. In contrast, a retailer buys electricity from wholesalers or directly from generators and sells it to end users, managing billing and customer service. The distinction lies in their roles within the supply chain and their customer base; wholesalers deal with large-scale transactions and focus on the supply side, whereas retailers focus on the distribution to and servicing of the final consumer.

What is a wholesale group?

A wholesale group represents a collective of wholesalers who join forces to leverage combined purchasing power, share marketing efforts, and optimize logistics. Such groups enable individual wholesalers to benefit from economies of scale, negotiate better prices with manufacturers, and access a wider market. Additionally, by pooling resources, they can invest in technology and infrastructure that might be too costly for a single wholesaler, thereby improving efficiency and competitiveness in the market.

Tiernan OConnor

Tiernan O'Connor is an accomplished Sales Director and NetSuite expert at DWR Consulting, a top-tier NetSuite Solution Provider and Implementation Partner. With over 25 years of experience in Sales, Marketing, Cloud ERP and technology, Tiernan has become a trusted authority in the NetSuite Partner community, helping businesses of all sizes streamline their operations and achieve success. Tiernan's in-depth understanding of NetSuite's capabilities and his extensive experience in implementing cloud-based ERP solutions have positioned him as a thought leader in the industry. He is known for his ability to identify and execute tailored strategies that meet each client's unique needs, ensuring they unlock the full potential of NetSuite's powerful features. Connect with Tiernan on LinkedIn

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