E-commerce to replace catalogues as the dealer’s main selling tool

Convenience is the name of the game and what consumers demand. They want to buy anything, anytime, anywhere and definitely won’t be carting the traditional office products catalogue around with them to buy from!

Even if someone is buying from their desk don’t assume that they are going to be reaching for a catalogue. They are far more likely to Google what they want, or if they have a website they are familiar with such as Amazon, they just go there and use the search facility. What gets presented is a load of options with prices, detailed product information, images, videos, related items and reviews from people who’ve previously bought the product. The buyer hasn’t had to move. If they’re sitting in the car between meetings, or waiting to pick the kids up from school and think, “I’ll just have a look for that new fridge we need for the office kitchen”. Smartphone comes out and bingo, they’ve ordered a fridge.

Times are changing

So why are dealers still so wedded to the notion of a catalogue being the be all and end all?  Yes, there is still a place for a catalogue, but with an effective e-commerce platform, why are dealers restricting themselves? Traditionally, what went in the catalogue is what a dealer’s customer bought. Not anymore

There are e-commerce solutions out there right now that dealers can use to compete with the likes of Amazon and other online resellers. Dealer group Advantia is a shareholder in e-commerce developer Comgem because we see technology as the key driver in the survival and prosperity of business supplies dealers.

Cost advantage

The major online resellers are not buying any better than dealers. What they have is a cost advantage. They achieve this through effectively using technology and operating a totally different business model. They are leaner and more efficient, but are still giving great service. But what does great service actually mean? Great service is giving buyers the products they want, meeting their expectations and putting them in control.

What dealers need to do is give buyers a huge product range that they can access quickly and easily from one website. With all the information required to make a buying decision, data that is always correct with accurate stock availability or lead-times. They need the convenience of being able to do this on a mobile device and be able to order on account, or by card payment, access previous order history, download VAT invoices and have full traceability of current orders.

Dealers can offer e-commerce plus the comfort of a local presence, local staff and hardcopy marketing if that’s what buyers want. Dealers’ salespeople need to sell online solutions that save customers time and money and demonstrate that the time spent price-checking negates any price benefit.

Advantia chairman, Bob Geens will be speaking at Dealer Support LIVE on how dealers can effectively use technology to sell. To find out more about the event head to www.dealersupportlive.co.uk.

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Posted by Austin Clark (95)

Written on 22nd August 2016

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