There are a lot of differences between working with direct customers (aka B2C or business-to-consumer) and working with retailers (aka B2B or business-to-business). Both sales channels call for separate sets of logistics, processes, and even strategies. So, if you are an eCommerce brand looking to expand into retail, you likely need to rethink your fulfillment practices.
For example, products per order or shipment tend to be larger and heavier bulk orders. They’re also likely to be less frequent. Retailers may also have more regulations on exactly when and how products can be received – this is especially true of large retailers. The entire process can be more complex—a lot more – often requiring advanced technologies and tracking.
If B2B is part of your business, then it’s vital to understand how to work with retail partners. Ultimately, this will have a big impact on your cash flow, profitability, and most importantly, your customer relationship.
As you create your strategy for growing this sector of your business, here are some of the best practices to keep in mind:
- Customer care: Ensuring your 3PL provides quick responses with accurate information can help improve communications with all parties involved to keep your retailer partners happy and ultimately delight end customers.
- Inventory management: We’ve all heard the saying, “what gets measured gets improved.” This starts when your inventory hits the warehouse and includes how your inventory is stored. It also involves advanced technologies and transparent dashboards that allow you to track your inventory and ensure it’s easy and efficient to pick and pack not only carton boxes, but full pallets, correctly and safely.
- Tracking inventory: Tracking your inventory allows you to know exactly where your shipment is and when it arrived. Retailers often have very specific instructions to ensure on-time delivery. Having a 3PL team that understands and follows these guidelines and regulations leads to happier and more profitable retailer relationships.
- EDI compliance: Speaking of the retailer guidelines, there can be enormous amounts of paperwork for each retailer. An experienced 3PL can help make EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) compliance easier by automating the process for faster, more efficient transactions.
- Flexibility: If we’ve learned anything these last couple of years, it’s that things change, and they can change fast. Ensuring your systems, products, forecasts, and logistics can change to meet your and your retailer’s needs is vital for your long-term success. A great 3PL partner can work with you closely and help ensure inventory, tracking, and forecasting accuracy, which can help your business thrive, even during challenging times.
Working with retailers usually means the stakes are also higher. Fines or lost relationships can result from seemingly small errors when repeated regularly. So, ensuring your strategy, partnerships, technology, and responsive communications are top-notch is critical to keeping the relationship positive and profitable.
At QuickBox, we’re here to help you with all of the ins and outs of B2B fulfillment, including advanced IT integration, shipping optimization, and retail compliance. We have the operational expertise to ensure your orders and deliveries flow flawlessly.
Ready to get started? Contact QuickBox today.