Has Your Wholesale Business Caught the Wave of Mobile Readiness?

The 21st-century business is on the move. Literally. Is yours?

Not that long ago all computer-related tasks had to take place at a desk.  Of course, laptops made things a bit more portable, but for the most part, you still needed a desk to perch it on. Because the internet was stationary. 

Less than 3 decades ago a select few carried a Palm Pilot PDA (personal digital assistant). In 2011 about 35% of adults in the U.S. carried a smartphone. As of February 2021, that number jumped to 85% of adults in the U.S. Because the internet is no longer stationary. 

As of 2020, 68.1% of all website visits came from mobile devices. 

What does this mean for your business? Are you and your sales reps still tied to the desktop? 

The Mobile Impact on Business

Mobile technology and increased methods of connectivity have changed the way businesses can communicate. Tasks and processes that may have called for pen and paper not that long ago are now instantaneous. So is communication between departments, upstream suppliers, downstream customers, and other third parties.

While all of them are important, many would point to the improved customer experience that the mobile generation makes possible as one of the most important. A customer who has their questions, requests, and orders dealt with instantaneously is a happy customer. 

The trend towards mobile has also positively impacted and streamlined businesses processes, leading to better accuracy and quality. If your processes involve things like distribution and fulfillment, think of how far ahead you could be when you couple them with the improved customer experience mentioned above.

Given all this, what’s truly astounding is that a recent survey showed 28% of small businesses don’t even have a website, forget about being mobile-ready. And in a time where face-to-face business completely stopped thanks to the pandemic . . . well, I bet a lot of those businesses aren’t even viable anymore. 

The lesson? Don’t get stuck behind the times just because you don’t think your business needs to take advantage of technological advances. The cost could be far too high.

A Hypothetical Business Scenario 

Let’s assume you have a wholesale business. Or any business that has a downstream clientele. Perhaps you have sales reps that service them. 

You’ve remained in the past, where your customers need to phone you to place an order. Then you have an employee who needs to access order entry software on a computer to input the order. Or maybe you have a customer or sales rep who needs to check inventory before a customer will place an order. Again, someone needs to access the information. Depending on the size of your operation, you may have a whole network of computers that can be accessed, or you may have just one. Either way, several factors could draw out this process—and ultimately annoy your customer.

A customer who needs to make a phone call then perhaps gets put on hold, or has to leave a message just to check inventory before they can place an order isn’t a happy one. Maybe they were okay with that a decade ago when that was the only option, but they won’t be okay with it now.

They want to log into a site, check inventory, and place an order all from their phone while on the go. Because the 21st-century businessperson is always on the go, they aren’t chained to a desktop.

For those in a wholesale environment, the answer could be something like Flowsmith, a QuickBooks desktop addon. A portal that mimics the online shopping experience that everyone is already familiar with.  No delayed communication via email, phone, or even faxes. 

The Cost of Falling Behind 

By now, the cost of falling behind should be evident. Don’t be like the 28% of small businesses surveyed who didn’t even have a website. Something that should have been unthinkable in 2020. 

No one knows what tomorrow will bring. 2020 brought a pandemic and even big business is still reeling from its effects. Many small businesses that were stuck in the past technology-wise are now out of business. 

Technology is advancing fast. A decade ago, we moved from the desktop/laptop to a smartphone. Now people are demanding apps for their smartwatches. And data is stored in the cloud. 

If you’re still expecting your customers to pick up the phone or wait for the information they need, expect to be left behind. Technology brought the expectation of instant gratification, and you need to be prepared to respond accordingly. 

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