Dominating Distribution: 4 Growth Areas

Today’s distribution organizations must embrace technologies and digital strategies for growth.

Dominating in distribution is possible as growth is predicted across all types of distribution channels. Online shopping has become the new normal for nearly all consumers. The bad news? Adoption of digital strategies to jumpstart e-commerce is slower in distribution than other sectors. Distribution organizations need to embrace the move to digital across all areas of the business to meet demand, streamline processes to enable growth, and to stay competitive.

But it is not a price-only race to the bottom. Buyers today are looking for more than just the cheapest transaction. They are looking to stay loyal to trusted companies with products they love and have a great customer experience from their first engagement when browsing to their last in buying. For distributors, this means delivering an omnichannel experience which is easy and efficient to maintain.

Let’s dive into four areas to help win more customers, increase efficiency, and drive more revenue.

Integrate and Automate:
Let’s face it: getting new products to market across channels isn’t easy. Doing this while delivering a positive customer experience (CX) is even more difficult. According to a recent Technology Trends in Distribution Report, companies expect customer touchpoints to expand and change, yet they are not embracing the technologies to support this. They must meet the needs of their own organization and with supply chain partner organizations.

Technology Trends Distribution Report image

*Image via Technology Trends in Distribution Report

In order to speed up the process and drive results, you must eliminate duplication and centralize product information across platforms. A solution like Product Information Management (PIM) platform can help. With a PIM, you can synchronize product content across SKU catalogs, CRM, e-commerce and website content management systems – meaning product marketing teams only create product information once. It puts an end to duplicate work and ensures a better CX.

Top performing organizations want to take efficiency to the next level by integrating PIM with their manufacturing and supply chain partners. Building best practices or utilizing technology partners can help automate supplier onboarding to stock the “digital shelf.” This speeds time-to-market, ensures accurate product information, and delivers a consistent customer experience trhoughout distribution channels. Wins all around!

Rich product information builds trust:
What’s the ideal way to drive more revenue in today’s market? Simple. Make it easy for buyers to find and trust you. The tricky part? Figuring out how. Create accurate product descriptions that matter to your buyers. Use storytelling and rich emotional descriptions. Spice up product information with user testimonials, unboxing videos, and use case examples. Write persuasively while staying factual and avoid getting caught up with internal company language.

Your content should connect with your prospects and visitors on an emotional level. However, don’t forget the essential details your buyers need to know. This includes dimensions, weight, colors, optional add-on information, and set-up requirements. Anticipate what they may ask or want to know before they ask.

As you get questions into your call center or through other channels, take the time to include those answers in your product descriptions. Pay attention to what buyers are asking to make content and experiences customer-centric. Use this content to facilitate an easy purchase process. Consistent content and positive customer experiences build trust.

Mobile is a must:
While not everyone uses their phone to make a purchase, they browse and start their research via mobile devices now more than ever.

According to eMarketer, they predict mobile commerce will be 72% of all commerce by 2021. That one statistic should tell you everything you need to know. It’s time to shift website development resources from desktop-centric site building to mobile first. Continuous focus on delivering a great mobile experience is a must for every organization.

Mind the Abandon Gap:
With the average cart abandonment rate at almost 70%, we could all stand to tighten our selection-to-purchase processes. Start by being upfront about where you are located, where you are shipping from, and the available shipping options.

Customers are drawn to free shipping so the more you can minimize or even eliminate shipping costs, the better. Of course, we all love free shipping, but remember you are in the business to make a profit. Could you raise the price of the product price a bit and in turn, lower or get rid of the shipping cost? If you are offering free shipping, make sure your business can sustain profit margins with the free shipping offer. Being as intentional with your shipping prices as you are with your product prices is key.

It all comes back to being upfront. Just how important is trust? Very. In fact, 19% of online shoppers ditch their carts because they don’t trust a website with their payment information. It’s critical to have trust badges, payment provider logos, or SSL certificates indicating buyer payment information will be processed correctly and securely.

Cart abandonment stats

*Image via 40 Cart Abandonment Rate Statistics

In short, commerce is always in flux regardless of vertical or channel. Keep an eye on evolving buyer preferences, industry trends, product marketing requirements, and technical advancements that may impact business. Stay customer-centric in all you do to grow your business and dominating distribution is more than possible.

Want to stay in the know about all things e-commerce, product marketing, PIM, and customer experience? Subscribe to the PIMtalk podcast, the only PIM podcast.

Written by

Erika Goldwater, CIPP

Erika Goldwater is the director of global communications for inRiver. An industry veteran, Erika lives and breathes B2B marketing, content, public relations, and data privacy. She's a Boston marketer who hails from Baltimore.