Now is the time to take wholesale business online. Here’s your 4-point checklist for choosing the right digital platform.
According to McKinsey’s State of Fashion 2020 and Business of Fashion’s Coronavirus Update reports, brands who want to navigate this time of uncertainty need to think strategically and creatively, and pivot as opportunity presents itself. Which, in today’s environment, means getting digital right. Our industry has transformed the consumer side with omnichannel efficiencies and immersive experiences, but wholesale has lagged behind. Now more than ever, wholesale needs to digitize--not only to keep pace with innovation, but to conduct usual business during these challenging times.
Bringing wholesale online is a process. But it can be a surprisingly easy and fast one. And the increased knowledge and speed it brings to every level of decision-making and operations can turn an ever-changing and hyper-competitive environment into a land of possibility.
This post will share the key features and functions to consider when searching for your digital wholesale solution.
1. A high performance virtual showroom
For the foreseeable future, your business will rely heavily on hosting virtual appointments. A digital wholesale solution should offer an immersive experience of your brand that engages your customers in this new way. It should include the ability to curate dynamic selections for individual appointments, a seamless, e-commerce like shopping experience, and automated order management.
For a high performance virtual showroom, ask yourself these 3 questions:
- Does your brand want to support confident buying and generate more orders?
If yes, then look for 360 degree imagery with spin and zoom options, and the capability to post dynamic brand video of runway shows and more. Also look for ‘shop the look’ capabilities for easy, guided ordering.
- Is personalization important to your buyers?
Buyers react positively to curated selections. Ensure you can send them customized shoppable 3D assortments, invite them to personalized virtual collection walkthroughs, and/or collaborate in real time to develop a common vision and finalize looks and orders. Look for an automated tracking hub to send out and calendar all appointments from a central location with the ability to share conference links and shoppable linesheets.
- Is increasing average order value an important business goal?
This seems like a no-brainer, but many brands don’t realize how much a direct and efficient business model supports this. Look for automated order processing that utilizes bulk tools to communicate and replace dropped styles. This will not only increase buyer response--it will also give your sales team the ability to stop chasing order confirmations, and refocus on nurturing existing collaborations, and generating new business.
2. A simple, digitally connected way to work faster and smarter
An ideal digital platform runs the full spectrum of your wholesale activities online. It integrates seamlessly with your ERP or backend system, and provides a centralized dashboard view of all your order process and business metrics in real time. It streamlines, automates and organizes vital tasks so your team can focus on building the collaborative partner connections that will grow your brand’s revenue, and future.
Choose a platform built on open-source technology and APIs to share data seamlessly across business functions and departments, and support connectivity with future technology solutions and partnerships. Make sure to adopt a SaaS platform that has a simple and clear implementation process, and will integrate easily with your current systems and workflow.
3. A partner to go with you as you grow
With the right online wholesale platform, your team will work much more efficiently and intelligently--freeing up time, money and team members to shift out of the day to day and invest into strategy and growth. So when it comes to going digital, it’s important to think big.
Pick a wholesale platform that can scale with you and support your company at every stage:
- First and foremost, choose a platform as your partner.. Work with a team that simplifies concepts, answers questions, finds solutions and cares about your success.
- Confirm it has a global presence to support business in several languages, currencies, and time zones; as well as 24/7 global support.
- Will you have the ability to work directly with a Customer Success Manager that understands your goals and business structure?
- Will you have a dedicated Integrations manager who will carry out your backend integration, and train your team?
- Does it serve a diverse base of brands and retailers?
- Evaluate its stability--see how long it has been in business.
- Assess the platform’s milestones and achievements: does it have a history of keeping up with industry innovations--or better yet, does it lead the way?
4. Do your stars align?
It’s almost second nature to check reviews first before we purchase. Why not make this common sense step part of your decision making process when researching a digital platform?. Look for reviews on Glassdoor.com to see what employees at the company think about the company and the leadership - does the culture at the company align with your company’s ethos? Do employees seem concerned about the platform’s financial stability? This is key to determine, as you want to choose a partner you can grow with for the long term.
A digital wholesale solution--in a strong digital platform--is the path forward
Your digital platform should function as a gateway to new partnerships and opportunities. It should remove obstacles, and provide smooth and seamless connections that diversify and grow your business throughout the global wholesale ecosystem. To accomplish this, it must require only a single integration--the one with your backend system. Digitally-driven insights and efficiencies cannot exist within silos. If your chosen solution requires a separate integration with each new retail partner, it is not a digital platform, but a tool--and a limiting one at that. Now more than ever, wholesale needs the competitive advantage true digital connection can bring--and the right digital platform will provide its foundation.