Facing The Most Pressing Critical Priority In Wholesale Distribution Head On

Michelle Schooff

The customer should be the center of your business.

That premise seems simple enough. But often, organizations neglect to treat customers like a critical element to business success.

The truth is, customer-centricity is an undeniable strategic priority for all organizations, and it’s where your wholesale distribution business can create a key differentiator for itself.

By building lasting relationships with customers, creating mobile and omnichannel experiences for them, and engaging them throughout every stage of the customer lifecycle, you set yourself apart from others who continue to let supply drive their business. Beginning your journey to customer-centricity – and reaping the unparalleled benefits of doing so – is easier than you think.

Treat customers like people for increased engagement

It’s no surprise that customers respond better to personalized marketing and customizable tools. In the past, such efforts were time-consuming and expensive. But now, digitalization is making it easier than ever to engage with your customers – and potential ones – on an increasingly personal level. With advanced analytics, you can gain insight into customer behaviors that will help you provide more-relevant offers in your marketing materials and promotional campaigns.

It’s also much easier to provide customers with a variety of options for shopping and support. They have come to expect the same mix of mobile apps and traditional websites that they use in their personal lives, and a seamless and comprehensive experience there is vital. In this digital age, the stakes for customer churn are high – if your customers must log into your desktop site after downloading your app because the information on their phone is not up to date, they will probably abandon both entirely.

Ultimately, you must empower your customers to open dialogues with you on their platform of choice.

The importance of empowerment extends to your employees, too. Next-generation technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning enable sales and support to provide the high-quality services customers expect.

For instance, integrating an AI-powered bot into your online support channels removes many of your employees’ mundane and repetitive tasks. The bot can handle simple requests, including password resets and order updates, while your human support team spends time providing personalized attention to more-critical customer issues.

Embrace the intelligence of the digital consumer

The traditional business-to-business (B2B) customer relationship has become driven by consumer needs and demands. That means the face-to-face model of the past is inefficient and unable to sustain the everywhere, all-the-time needs of today’s customers. Even the traditional incentive-based loyalty programs that worked so well in the past are becoming less effective – customers simply have more choices than they used to, paired with easy online access to prices from your competitors.

In fact, customers are increasingly comfortable and empowered to engage with companies. They are fully prepared to take their issues and concerns online – beyond your traditional support channels – and they expect a response. Social media is now a favorite source for support and issue resolution because it’s easy to use, and B2B customers can use it to gain information and exchange notes about their experiences with other users. That means you need to be ready to engage with them 24×7, no matter where the dialogue begins.

Easy access to other consumer experiences has further contributed to your customers’ intelligence. Outsmart them by providing new and innovative services before they expect them. Consider a menu of options including light manufacturing, sensor-based services, training and consulting, and lending.

You can meet the growing demands of intelligent customers with support from intelligent technologies. To learn more, read the new whitepaper from SAP: Riding the Waves of Disruption in Wholesale Distribution.


Michelle Schooff

About Michelle Schooff

Michelle Schooff is a global marketing director in the life sciences and wholesale distribution industries for SAP. She is responsible for the marketing strategy, messaging and positioning for SAP solutions in the global marketplace. With over 20 years experience in technology and marketing, Michelle builds strategic marketing plans that drive growth, innovation and revenue.