Transitioning to Online Ordering
June 23, 2020
Transitioning to Online Ordering
A Guest Post From Wes Verno of Verno Consulting
Even though most wholesalers have been talking about online ordering for the last five years, very few have had any success getting their accounts to consistently place their orders online. Thanks in large part to significant advancements to DSDLink as well as the market-wide impact of a global pandemic, wholesalers all around the country are finally making a legitimate push to convert their accounts to online ordering.
Benefits of Online Ordering
Accounts can shop the wholesaler’s entire product offering, not just what their sales rep pitches them on. In fact, many wholesalers are actually seeing an increase in sales in accounts that are moved to online ordering since the decision-maker is now shopping the product list.
Wholesalers can control what packages they want each account type to see. For example - they may prohibit a Chinese restaurant from ordering a Double IPA that is likely to go out of code in the future.
Customers can pay online through the portal.
Wholesalers can manage their accounts’ delivery frequency & service day of the week much easier through the portal. Wholesalers can also enforce a delivery minimum on the portal.
The account’s decision-maker is not always available or present when the sales rep calls on the account. Now, the decision-maker can place their order whenever they want to without having to get ahold of their rep by phone, text or email.
Communication with the account can actually improve when moved online. This can be done via all the marketing tools & notification options that are available through the portal. For instance:
Wholesalers can send out push notifications to the accounts reminding them to place their order on their sales day
Accounts can receive order confirmation messages with their product and cost details
Accounts can review their past order history
Wholesalers can market new items and target packages to their customers on the portal
Wholesalers can reduce their costs and resources dedicated to calling on these accounts on a regular basis for replenishment purposes.
Hear from distributors that have realized the benefits of DSDLink:
During these difficult times, DSDLink’s online ordering allows us to serve our local businesses at the same time helping reduce human contact for our employees and accounts.
We have had several local retailers shut down. We are doing everything we can to help them keep their doors open. DSDLink’s ordering platform helps us do that during this epidemic, and the Encompass DSDLink support team has been there to support us every step of the way.
DSDLink has been a great tool for us during the spread of COVID-19. We have been able to continue to support our retailers by allowing them to order online which helps us reduce human interaction while allowing our customers to continue to receive the service they need.
Converting Accounts to Online Ordering
For years, many wholesalers have been trying to convert their customers to online ordering by hand selling them one at a time and giving them the option to place their orders online. By all measures, this method has proven to be highly ineffective. The wholesalers that have successfully converted the vast majority if not all of their on-premise accounts to online ordering have done so by mandating the change to their accounts, eliminating all other ordering options. While this sounds harsh, it is not uncommon. In all likelihood, the account is already placing their wine & spirits and food orders online.
Steps to converting accounts to online ordering:
Select the accounts you want to move to online ordering. Most wholesalers start by converting their tel-sell accounts to online ordering first before moving onto the rest of the on-premise accounts and eventually even some of their off-premise accounts.
Communicate the mandated conversion deadline to the target accounts. For example - for the identified 200 accounts, the only way to order product from XYZ Distributing Company is via DSDLink starting August 1st.
Educate the accounts on how to use the online ordering platform. Provide them with “how to” material, such as instructions on how to create an account, how to navigate the portal, how to place an order, how to review order history, etc. This training is best done in person the first time. Wholesalers should provide as much leave behind training materials as possible, such as hard copy step-by-step instructions and links to training videos on YouTube.
Managing Accounts on DSDLink
The wholesaler needs to have someone dedicated to managing the entire online ordering process. This person will be responsible for:
Reviewing orders submitted by customers for accuracy
Setting up the push notifications that are sent to customers
Developing account-specific marketing material
Managing product priorities/limitations by account type
Keeping account master information up to date
Troubleshooting any issues with accounts
Selling to Online Accounts
Even though the accounts are now responsible for their own orders, wholesalers are still actively selling to these accounts. In addition to the online marketing that is available on the portal, many wholesalers are still sending their salespeople into the accounts, albeit at a lower frequency. Instead of spending the majority of their time in the account dealing with the replenishment order, the rep is now spending 100% of their time being a true salesperson. In addition to pitching new products, promotions and programs, some wholesalers are having their reps provide data-based business reviews with the account owners & manager. These reviews have proven to be highly effective and are typically appointment-based, set up ahead of time by the rep.
Online ordering is the way of the future, so make sure your business is prepared. Transitioning to online ordering can help increase efficiency within your distributorship and set your accounts up for success.
About Verno Consulting
Verno has worked with over 400 beer wholesalers, helping them improve their profitability and market shares. Verno provides proven methodologies and customized solutions to wholesaler business challenges. Contact Verno today to determine how we can help your company meet its biggest challenges.