Orders In Seconds

5 Challenges Every Small to Medium Wholesale Distributor Faces

By <span style="font-weight:bold;color:#F63C47; font-style: italic;">Oscar Guerrero</span>

By Oscar Guerrero

Published May 16, 2017

Are you a small or medium wholesale distributor in the CPG industry? If so, you’re likely familiar with the rapidly changing landscape of B2B marketing. It can be overwhelming to keep up with the pace, but rest assured, you’re not alone. Many businesses in your industry are facing similar challenges. Before you lose patience with the market, take a moment to explore the following five common hurdles that most business owners in wholesale distribution have confessed to facing. Understanding these challenges will help you navigate the ever-evolving B2B marketing landscape and find strategies to overcome them effectively.


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Marketing and Sales Data

Many small and medium wholesale distributors in the CPG industry face challenges when it comes to effectively utilizing marketing and sales data. 

Imagine a scenario where a wholesale distributor fails to consistently track and update customer information. As a result, their marketing campaigns are based on outdated or incomplete data, leading to irrelevant promotions and missed opportunities to engage with customers effectively.

To overcome these obstacles and make informed decisions based on data, consider the following solutions:


  • Set clear goals: Clearly define your marketing objectives and identify the specific data points that will help you measure and track progress. For example, if your goal is to increase customer retention, focus on data related to customer purchase history and engagement metrics.


  • Invest in data tools: Embrace advanced data management tools that streamline data collection, interpretation, and analysis processes. These tools can empower you to make data-driven decisions efficiently. For instance, utilizing customer relationship management (CRM) software can centralize customer data and facilitate better understanding of their preferences and behaviors.


  • Analyze and interpret data: Develop the capability to analyze and interpret the data you collect. Leverage data analytics software or collaborate with data analysts who can identify trends, patterns, and correlations in your data. For instance, analyzing purchase patterns may reveal opportunities for cross-selling or upselling.


  • Execute data-driven marketing plans: Utilize the insights derived from your data to craft targeted marketing plans. Tailor your messaging, promotions, and product recommendations based on customer preferences and behaviors. For example, you can segment your customer base and create personalized email campaigns to increase open rates and conversions.


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Inventory Management and Demand Forecasting

Managing inventory levels and accurately forecasting demand can be a significant challenge for wholesale distributors. CPG products often have varying demand patterns and seasonality, making it crucial for distributors to strike a balance between overstocking, which ties up capital, and understocking, which can lead to lost sales and dissatisfied customers.

Fortunately, there are tools available such as QuickBooks Inventory to help streamline these processes and optimize inventory management. Here’s how it can help:


  • Real-time inventory tracking: QuickBooks Inventory Management provides real-time visibility into inventory levels, allowing distributors to monitor stock quantities, track product movements, and identify potential stockouts or overstocks promptly.


  • Demand forecasting capabilities: The tool incorporates advanced forecasting algorithms that analyze historical sales data, market trends, and other relevant factors to generate accurate demand forecasts. This enables distributors to anticipate future demand fluctuations and make informed inventory replenishment decisions.


  • Inventory optimization: By leveraging QuickBooks Inventory Management, distributors can optimize their inventory levels and avoid unnecessary capital tie-up. The tool helps determine the optimal reorder points, safety stock levels, and lead times, ensuring that stock is available when needed without excess carrying costs.


  • Reporting and analytics: QuickBooks Inventory offers comprehensive reporting and analytics features. Distributors can access key metrics such as inventory turnover, stock aging, and sales performance to gain actionable insights and make data-driven decisions.


Quickbooks inventory graphic


Gap Between Technology and Skills

Wholesale distributors often find themselves facing a gap between the traditional ways of operating and the evolving technological landscape. To thrive in this environment, it is crucial for wholesale distributors to address this gap and ensure they have the necessary skills and knowledge to leverage technology effectively. Consider the following strategies to bridge this gap:


  • Identify skill gaps: Conduct a comprehensive assessment of your workforce to identify any skill gaps related to technology adoption and utilization. Determine the specific skills and knowledge that are required to navigate the changing landscape of the CPG industry.


  • Invest in training and development: Provide ongoing training programs and professional development opportunities to equip your employees with the necessary technological skills. This can include training on data analysis, inventory management systems, digital marketing platforms, DSD software and other relevant tools. Encourage employees to stay updated on industry trends and emerging technologies through continuous learning initiatives.


  • Hire tech-savvy talent: When hiring new employees or recruiting for key positions, prioritize candidates with a strong aptitude for technology. Look for individuals who are adaptable, open to learning, and comfortable working with digital B2B tools such as route sales software, wms systems and others. This can help infuse your organization with the necessary expertise to bridge the technology skills gap.


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Margin Pressures

Profit margins in the consumer packaged goods industry can be thin, and small and medium distributors often face challenges in maintaining healthy margins. Price pressures from manufacturers and retailers, along with rising costs such as transportation and warehousing, can squeeze the profitability of wholesale distributors. Finding ways to optimize operational efficiency and negotiate favorable pricing terms become crucial in this context. Consider the following:


  • Optimize operational efficiency: Streamline internal processes, eliminate bottlenecks, and automate manual tasks to improve operational efficiency. This can reduce costs and increase productivity. Embrace technology solutions, such as inventory management systems and order fulfillment software, to streamline operations and reduce errors.


  • Negotiate favorable pricing terms: Engage in proactive negotiations with manufacturers and retailers to secure favorable pricing terms. Explore opportunities to establish strategic partnerships or joint marketing initiatives that can lead to better pricing and promotional support.


  • Diversify product portfolio: Expand your product portfolio to include higher-margin products or niche offerings. By diversifying, you can tap into new revenue streams and offset margin pressures on existing products. Conduct market research to identify emerging trends and consumer demands.


  • Focus on value-added services: Differentiate your offerings by providing value-added services that can justify higher prices. This can include personalized customer support, tailored product recommendations, or customized packaging solutions. Enhancing the overall customer experience can command premium pricing.


wholesale distributors looking at a tablet with graphics reflecting their profits


Competition from Large Distributors

Small and medium wholesale distributors often face intense competition from larger players in the CPG market. Larger distributors may have more resources, established relationships with manufacturers, and better bargaining power, making it difficult for smaller or medium size distributors to compete on price and product selection. Consider implementing the following: 


  • Differentiate through niche offerings: Identify a specific niche or target market within the CPG industry and develop expertise in catering to its unique needs. By specializing in a particular product category or serving a specific customer segment, smaller distributors can differentiate themselves and build a loyal customer base.


  • Embrace technology and e-commerce: Leverage technology to enhance efficiency, expand reach, and compete on a larger scale. Invest in B2B eCommerce platforms to offer online ordering and convenient product accessibility. Utilize digital marketing strategies to promote your unique value proposition and reach a wider audience.


  • Build a strong brand presence: Invest in branding and marketing efforts to establish a strong presence in the market. Develop a compelling brand story, communicate your unique value proposition, and cultivate a loyal customer base. Leverage social media and online platforms to amplify your brand messaging and engage with customers.


  • Implement trade promotions: Offer attractive trade promotions to incentivize retailers and customers to choose your products over those of larger distributors. This can include discounts, special offers, volume-based pricing, or promotional bundles. By providing value-added incentives, you can attract retailers to stock your products and encourage customers to purchase from your distribution network.



In Conclusion

To overcome the challenges in the wholesale distribution industry embrace a clear purpose, equip yourself with the necessary skills, and leverage technology to drive success. With the right mindset and proactive approach, you can navigate the changing landscape, optimize your operations, and achieve your business goals. Take the first step towards overcoming challenges and unlocking your true potential in the CPG market today!

For more information about how Orders in Seconds can help you streamline your DSD sales and sales order management processes, schedule a free demo here

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This exclusive eBook is packed with real-world, data-driven concepts that can help maximize your store visits and double your sales.
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