Ecommerce and stock control for B2B wholesalers

If you sell wholesale goods to other businesses, you’ll be well aware of the differences in requirements compared to B2C retail and ecommerce services. Given the quantities of goods you ship, you may be turning over your entire warehouse in less than a week, so stock management is of the utmost importance to you too.

So what systems do you have in place to manage your processes? Using digital technology and automation within your business can massively reduce time spent on manual processes and the number of staff needed.

Let’s firstly take a look at the ordering process.

It doesn’t need to be a flashy catalogue; it just needs to be quick and efficient for B2B sales.

Your regular B2B customers know what sells in their business and what they’re likely to be needing from you. Your website should make it easy for them to place repeat orders, see new items, see what’s back in stock, and review price changes. In an ideal situation, the website should also show live stock availability.

You might even decide to allow B2B customers to download a CSV of your latest price lists so they can upload this to their own systems, or perhaps make your software talk directly to theirs.

On the flip side, you need to be able to fulfil orders.

This is where an excellent stock control system can really help you speed up your turnaround times and reduce the number of warehouse staff you need, enabling you to cope with peak periods.

Warehouse and stock management issues you may be facing:

  • Time consuming pick and pack process: Your staff need to know where products are in your warehouse, whether they’re accessible, and what orders need to be picked and packed - without duplicating anyone else’s work.
  • Inability to ship orders due to low stock: If stocks are low, you need a way of reporting this back to purchasing, so they can place an order and replenish your warehouse. Or it might be that particular stock is in an inaccessible location that requires machinery to move pallets in order to make it pickable.
  • Not knowing what exactly is coming in to your warehouse: When new stock arrives, you need a resilient goods in process to track this against purchase orders, ensure everything arrives as expected, and be able to record any missing, damaged or extra stock. Then you need to know which warehouse stock locations to replenish.

Additionally, if you are selling abroad and are concerned about Brexit implications, such as preferential rules of origin, you can read more about this here.

There's a solution.

Whilst there is a lot to think about when considering updating your online ordering systems or warehouse inventory systems, the good news is that it’s relatively easy to automate these processes for a B2B wholesaler.

Plus, we’ve done it before: our team at Switchplane has built the software necessary to implement a fully customised end-to-end process for H&B Supplies, one of the largest distributors of fine fragrance and skincare in the UK. You can read more about our specific work on their B2B ecommerce website and warehouse stock management desktop, iOS and Android apps here.

If any of the above topics resonate with you and your business is experiencing similar pain points, then drop us a line or book a video call with us to talk this over.

"We've worked with Switchplane for over 15 years. The team has built our website, inventory and picking systems. Our latest live order picking functionality has really reduced human error, speeded up the whole process and enabled us to reduce temp staff requirements at Christmas. So we've seen a great ROI from their software development work. We'd highly recommend the Switchplane team to any business."

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