Wholesale distribution is the process of selling products or goods in massive quantities to retailers or other businesses, that they then resell to frontline consumers. Wholesale businesses are a crucial link between manufacturers and the retail consumers that sell their end products.
Wholesale distribution solutions facilitate the flow of products as those products make their way through the supply chain. Here's how it works: Distributors purchase goods from manufacturers in bulk at discounted prices.
They then distribute those products to various retailers or resellers, who sell them to individual customers.
What Is the Role of a Wholesale Distributor?
In the wholesale distribution business, distributors play a vital role in ensuring the availability of diverse products in the market. Manufacturers make the products, but wholesale operations get those products to the right companies.
Wholesalers usually maintain massive inventories in their warehouses, so retailers can access a wide range of products without having to directly interface with numerous manufacturers.
By consolidating products, distributors streamline the purchasing process for retailers. It also makes it convenient to source a wide range of products from multiple suppliers through a single distributor.
Do Distributors Facilitate Other Wholesale Operations?
A distributor may also provide additional services to enhance the efficiency of distribution. These services include: inventory management, vendor management, sales management, warehouse management, and transportation logistics.
With these services, distributors help retailers optimize their operations and increase profitability. They act as intermediaries, bridging the gap between manufacturers and retailers, while adding value through their expertise in supply chains, project management and infrastructure.
The wholesale distribution sector actually encompasses several retail industries, including consumer goods, fashion, electronics, pharmaceuticals, automotive parts, and more.
Distributors in each industry learn about their unique market demand. They also establish relationships with manufacturers and retailers to ensure a seamless flow of goods from production to sale.
Through efficient distribution networks, vendor management, sales channels and strategic partnerships, distributors help facilitate the movement and sale of goods.
What is Wholesale Distribution Software?
Wholesale distribution software, aka distribution management or wholesale management software, are specialized software systems designed to streamline and optimize wholesale distribution businesses.
The software meets the unique needs of wholesale distributors by giving them comprehensive tools and functionalities to handle: inventory, sales and cost tracking, purchasing, order management and other critical aspects of their business.
What Are the Most Common Integrations?
Software for most wholesale distributors has built-in inventory management and order management features. These tools let distributors control their inventory levels and inventory costs, monitor stock movements, and automate their replenishment and distribution processes.
When distributors have accurate insight into their stock availability, it reduces the risk of stockouts or excess inventory. Efficiently managing inventory helps distributors minimize carrying costs, optimize order fulfillment, and enhance consumer satisfaction.
Sales, Purchasing and Supplier Management
Most software for wholesale also comes equipped with a sales and order management system. It allows distributors to manage customer orders, track sales orders and transactions, and streamline the order fulfillment process. Distributors can generate quotes, process orders, and manage customer accounts, all within a centralized system.
Purchasing and supplier management is another vital aspect of wholesale business operations. Wholesale distribution software can address this by providing tools for managing supplier relationships, generating purchase orders, and tracking the procurement process.
Distributors can then view a complete transaction history, automate purchase orders based on inventory levels, set reorder points, and manage vendor performance. These key features streamline the purchasing process by reducing manual errors, helping teams to negotiate better terms with their suppliers.
Wholesale distribution software usually has financial management features. These features let distributors track revenue, expenses, payment processing, project accounting, and cash flow. Financial management features may be used for billing automation.
They can also be used to generate financial statements and reports that inform purchasing decisions. Thus improving financial visibility, facilitating informed decision-making and securing the overall financial health of the wholesale distribution business.
Sometimes modern wholesale distribution software can integrate with other technologies, such as customer relationship management (CRM), e-commerce platforms, and warehouse management systems (WMS).
We'll talk about integrations with CRM systems in a second. Wholesale distribution solutions and e-commerce platform integrations enable seamless online sales, as well as easy order processing.
Wholesale software and WMS system integrations, on the other hand, can optimize warehouse operations. They do this by providing real-time inventory updates and optimizing storage space.
The best wholesale distribution software has multiple functions, the most important being automation to streamline operations. By leveraging this management system, wholesale distribution companies can enhance efficiency.
A cloud-based distribution platform can improve inventory management and increase sales to improve the profitability of a wholesale business. Distributors can use it to adapt to rapidly evolving market demands, manage their wholesale distribution operations, and stay competitive in the dynamic wholesale industry.
Does Wholesale Distribution Software Help with Customer Relationship Management?
Wholesale distribution software plays a crucial role in B2B customer relationship management (CRM).
Here are five ways in which software for wholesale also supports CRM:
1. Centralized Customer Database:
Wholesale distribution software usually offers a centralized customer database that distributors can use to store and manage all of their customer-related data.
This database gives distributors a holistic view of each and every customer, including: their contact details, purchase history, preferences, and all additional notes on interactions.
With this information readily available, distributors can personalize their interactions with customers to provide better customer service and address their needs more effectively.
2. Order and Sales Tracking:
Wholesale distribution software lets distributors track customer orders and sales transactions in real-time. This provides visibility into the status of orders, including order processing, fulfillment, and shipping. Distributors can then easily access their order history and track the progress of each order.
Like with ERP solutions, wholesale software's order and sales tracking ensures timely order delivery. It also allows wholesalers to quickly resolve any issues that arise.
With a clear understanding of customers' purchase patterns and preferences, distributors can proactively anticipate their needs to provide a tailored and exemplary B2B experience.
3. Customer Communication and Engagement:
Wholesale distribution software usually comes equipped with communication tools or CRM features –– such as email integration or built-in messaging systems. These tools let them contact customers in an efficient and effective way.
Distributors can then send order updates, delivery notifications, promotional offers, and other relevant information directly to their customers. These communication features help distributors stay connected with their customers, enhance engagement, and build stronger relationships.
4. CRM Integration:
Many wholesale distribution solutions have integration capabilities with dedicated CRM systems, or they offer CRM functionality within their own modular solution. This allows distributors to synchronize customer data between their wholesale distribution software and the CRM system.
Integrating CRM functionalities helps distributors leverage advanced CRM tools for managing leads, tracking customer interactions, creating marketing campaigns, and analyzing customer behavior. It often comes equipped with a sales analysis tool for better decision making and sales processes.
This integration ensures a comprehensive approach to CRM, enabling distributors to capture, analyze, and act upon customer data effectively.
5. Analytics and Reporting:
Wholesale distribution software usually comes equipped with robust reporting and analytics capabilities. These features give distributors valuable insights into customer behavior, purchasing patterns, and overall sales performance.
By analyzing customer data, distributors can identify trends, segment customers based on specific criteria, and develop targeted marketing strategies.
This data-driven approach helps distributors better understand their customers, make informed decisions, and implement effective CRM strategies to improve customer sentiment and loyalty.
The best wholesale distribution software supports CRM by providing a centralized customer database, order and sales tracking, and communication tools for customer management.
Medium sized wholesale companies should look for integrations with existing CRM systems and analytics capabilities to help them scale.
By leveraging these features, distributors can enhance customer relationships, deliver personalized experiences, and drive customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Distribution Management Software VS an Inventory Management System
Distribution management and inventory management systems are two distinct supply chain management solutions, yet they're interconnected in a few aspects.
Distribution management systems are focused on getting the products to consumers, while inventory management systems are focused on monitoring inventory.
Here's a comparison of the two:
Purpose and Scope:
Distribution management software manages the overall distribution process. This includes activities like order management, sales process management, customer relationship management (CRM), and logistics.
It encompasses a broader range of functionalities that streamline the movement of goods from manufacturers to retailers or end consumers.
An inventory management system, on the other hand, focuses specifically on optimizing the management of inventory levels, tracking stock movements, and ensuring the availability of goods through supply chain management. It usually has a built in warehouse management system.
IMS primarily revolves around inventory control, forecasting, and replenishment strategies.
Distribution management systems have tools for managing the entire distribution network, overseeing sales operations, tracking orders, and coordinating logistics. They facilitate key activities like order processing, route planning, warehouse management, and transportation optimization.
They also include features for managing consumer relationships, such as customer database management, vendor relationship management, communication tools, and sales analytics.
Inventory software, on the other hand, focuses on inventory control with functions like: stock tracking, inventory valuation, reorder point calculations, and safety stock management.
Integration and Collaboration:
Distribution management software often integrates with various systems, such as CRM software, ERP software, VRM software, and warehouse management systems (WMS).
These integrations enable seamless data flow, collaboration, and process synchronization across all of the various departments and stakeholders involved in the distribution process.
Sometimes inventory software also integrates with these systems. However, its main focus is on synchronizing inventory data with other related processes, such as sales, procurement, and production, to ensure accurate inventory tracking and decision-making.
Distribution management software emphasizes customer relationship management and sales operations. It provides tools to manage customer accounts, track sales transactions, and deliver better customer service. So distributors can enhance consumer satisfaction, increase sales, and strengthen customer loyalty.
While inventory management software indirectly impacts consumer satisfaction by ensuring product availability, its primary objective is actually to optimize inventory levels, reduce carrying costs, and improve operational efficiency.
Effective inventory processes are essential for successful distribution management. Without proper inventory control, accurate forecasting, and timely replenishment, distribution can suffer from stockouts, delays, and lost sales opportunities.
Distribution management software and inventory management are interdependent solutions. Distribution management software manages the entire distribution process, including order management, logistics, and consumer relationships.
Inventory software, on the other hand, helps wholesalers optimize inventory levels, track stock movements, and ensure product availability. The two solutions have different scopes and functionalities, but they're interconnected. Both are crucial for effective distribution and demand management.
Transformation in the Wholesale Distribution Industry
The wholesale distribution industry is undergoing a significant transformation driven by factors such as technological advancements, evolving customer expectations, the redefinition of important business processes, and evolving market dynamics.
Here are three key aspects of the transformation in wholesale distribution:
1. Digitalization and E-commerce:
The rise of digital technologies has revolutionized the wholesale distribution landscape. Wholesale distributors are embracing online channels to reach a wider customer base, provide self-service options, and enable seamless ordering and fulfillment processes.
Digital platforms offer opportunities for data-driven insights, personalized marketing, and real-time inventory visibility to enhance both operational efficiency and customer experiences.
2. Supply Chain Optimization:
Distributors are reevaluating their supply chain strategies to improve their efficiency and responsiveness. Advanced technologies such as AI, machine learning, and IoT can facilitate this journey.
These innovations allow distributors to aid B2B customers with real-time tracking and monitoring of inventory, predictive demand forecasting, and optimized routing and logistics.
Distributors can leverage technological advancements to reduce costs and optimize delivery routes. The result? Faster order fulfillment and improved customer satisfaction.
3. Value-Added Services and Solution Selling:
Wholesale distributors are expanding their offerings beyond product distribution by providing additional services and solutions.
They are becoming trusted partners and consultants, drawing upon their retail experience to offer expertise in areas such as optimizing inventory levels, supply chain management, and product knowledge.
By leveraging their industry expertise in tandem with data-driven insights, distributors can provide customized solutions to address specific customer challenges, ultimately helping customers drive their own business growth.
Embracing technology will be a critical KPI for distributors as the wholesale business continues to evolve. By focusing on customer needs and adapting to changing market dynamics, distributors can achieve long term success in the ever-changing wholesale distribution landscape.
Why is Surefront the Best Wholesale Distribution Software?
You don't want to pay for features you won't use. That's why a cloud ERP isn't the right solution for every unique wholesale business. The best wholesale distribution system streamlines a robust set of features that align with your specific business needs.
This may include managing inventory, order processing, CRM, analytics, integration capabilities, subscription management and more.
Surefront is the best wholesale distribution software, as we offer fully customizable functionalities. With Surefront, you can address the unique requirements of your essential business processes to achieve operational excellence in a fraction of the time.
Let's Talk Unification
You don’t want your data to be siloed. Your company’s PIM, CRM, and PLM solutions shouldn’t operate in a vacuum, either. Surefront is a Unified Product Collaboration Platform to power growth and ROI.
Our patented PIM, CRM, and PLM solutions streamline the omni channel sales, merchandising and product development processes.
By combining these essential functionalities, Surefront creates a single source of truth throughout your product lifecycle, sales and listing processes.
The results? Up to 150% more revenue per employee and a 40% shorter product development cycle is just the beginning. Try our 10x ROI calculator to see your company’s potential profits. Or, skip the noise and book a custom demo with one of our unified product collaboration management experts today.
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