Identifying the best retailers to transition to online ordering and getting them excited about that transition is critical to implementing a successful solution. Many distributors have found the earliest success in the on-premise channel, but each market is different, and quite a few distributors have had a smooth transition with off-premise adoption as well.
Communication with and training retailers is the key to a successful implementation. Below we have some sample education tools and collateral that was shared with retailers. Distributors have also learned that there is a difference between getting a retailer to sign up and getting them actually to start placing orders. Follow-up and even walking them through their first few online ordering experiences is a best practice shared by several distributors.
Once again, when considering any potential incentives for a retailer to adopt online ordering, please consult your legal counsel as well as your state association to make sure you are not violating and pricing or trade practice laws.
What accounts do you start with?
On-premise accounts generally seem to be the most logical starting point for most distributors, followed by independent off-premise accounts.
Some distributors tested with their pre-sell accounts but quickly made their solutions available to all accounts, both on-premise and off-premise.
How do you communicate this change to retailers?
What information needs to be communicated to the retailers:
How to sign-up
What information they need to provide
A brief synopsis of some program benefits
Distributor employee contact information for where to direct questions/inquiries
How to prepare retailers for the transition/what do you need from them?
Messaging is important: Get retailers excited about online ordering
Reassure them that this does not change the level of face-to-face service
Provides retailers with additional value-added sales and support on top of sales representative
Live demonstrations are available for training
Possible retailer incentives:*
Potentially offer a discount on the total ticket for their first/second/third orders placed (i.e.,1%, 2 ½%, 5% discounts)
Potentially offer first access to limited allocation/release products
Online ordering will likely not be the solution for all of your retailers. Distributors must identify those who will benefit the most and who will embrace this new ordering method. Once you get their interest and sign-up, you must follow through in making sure they grow comfortable using the platform, browsing inventory and purchasing products. Once they place several orders and see how smooth the process is this will become their new normal way of doing business. Additionally, it’s important to constantly communicate with your retailers to share new enhancements the platform has to offer as well as reminding them of the benefits available to them while using the system.