It’s an uncomfortable question.
After many conversations with people in the industrial supply sector, we’ve found that distributors are typically addressing the challenge in one of three ways:
Let’s use a swimming analogy:
- We know that a handful of you are (OLYMPIC LEVEL!) Sure, it takes constant effort and cost, but the returns are there and you’re getting great feedback from customers.
- Some of you are simply (HOLDING YOUR BREATH). That’s a tomorrow problem, or “somebody’s problem after I retire.”
- (IN DANGER OF DROWNING) Many of you are in the deep end right now trying to figure this out. For you, we offer our condolences…it’s tricky, isn’t it?
For those brave enough to lean into this challenge. Your e-commerce story might look something like this…
Building Your Online Store:
You start by using existing online store solutions that your website people recommend – they’re the ones that retail stores use. You quickly realize these solutions aren’t the right tool for the job.
“Industrial supply procurement isn’t click-to-buy, it’s a quoting process.” you tell them.
They don’t have a better solution for you – but it’s better than nothing.
Maintaining Your Online Store:
The realization that you must, now and forever, maintain the store hits you like a sledgehammer the first time you change pricing. So, you train an eager young person on your staff to take the hassle off your hands – knowing they’ll likely be gone in the next few years.
You dread the idea of going through the process again, training new people, keeping up with changes, troubleshooting, AND, AND, AND…so, you leave the store as it is – it’s good enough. After all, “The whole industry is experiencing this same pain, right?”
Then you sell a $3000 piece of equipment at $400 under cost because your team was too busy to get to that last price increase (true story).
So you consider shutting down the store to go back to the way it was. But that’s taking your company backwards, not towards profitable growth…
Meanwhile, you learn that a few customers have been experimenting with buying their items through huge international e-commerce retailers. You hear a few horror stories from the customers that return to you, “It’s worse than the wild west out there!”
But when you dig into the books, you realize that some of these customers must be gone to these new competitors for good.
So, you decide that your business should be on these platforms too. “It should be easy…”.
Wait you’ve heard that before…
You quickly learn that the margins on these platforms almost completely erode your profits…and you’re right back where you started.
How did we do? Was this close to your digitization story?
Help Is On The Way!
Enter ClearSource. A turnkey digital e-commerce solution for industrial supply distributors.
Your customers can quickly find, source, request a quote, and order without anyone on your staff having to maintain your e-commerce store!
Your order desk will be more efficient because:
- every RFQ comes with proper part numbering and descriptions from the brands you actually carry
- all you have to do is confirm pricing & availability and then move on to higher priority projects
- customers can retrieve their own receipts at tax time
Most importantly, you’ll have exposure to an even larger market so you can grow your business. Not to mention the extra data you can use for business intelligence.
If you’re an industrial supply distributor trying to sort out e-commerce, please reach out. ClearSource is here to help!