50,000 SKUs Later, Here Are the Lessons We’ve Learned About B2B Ecommerce
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Over the past 30 years, our company has served thousands of retailers.
But, to grow our business, it became more challenging to provide retailers with the B2B user experience they deserve.
We realized technology was the key to unlocking success — which is how our online journey began.
The B2B ecommerce landscape is constantly evolving, and while many brands are eager to add a B2B leg to their existing business model, they can easily become overwhelmed when navigating the B2B space.
Let’s explore how we got our start at Casey’s Distributing, and how other brands may learn from our journey.
Based in Omaha, Nebraska, Casey’s Distributing is the nation’s largest distributor of professional and collegiate sports products.
Imagine 50,000 SKUs of everything from mugs to tumblers to bobbleheads to pennants. That’s a lot of sports products.
By moving our business online, we were finally able to bring transparency to our retail customers.
This included everything from accurate inventory numbers to detailed product descriptions and titles. Going online not only solved business complexities but empowered us to focus on our most valuable asset — the success of our customers.
Historically, B2B buyers didn’t have a preference for how they shopped. But, once the digital age arose, their needs and requirements quickly changed.
A large part of the ecommerce B2B growth trend is due to this change in the traditional B2B buyer demographic.
The new age of B2B buyers are users that are savvy and really good with technology.
Present-day buyers expect Amazon-like experiences. They know what to look for online and, if your store doesn’t meet those expectations, you’ve missed out on your opportunity for success.
With even the greatest products, if brands don’t invest in the right technology, customers may shy away from transacting on their storefronts.
Technology has truly become the core agent to online success.
Brands are no longer putting all of their eggs in one basket.
With more B2C and direct-to-consumer (DTC) companies diving into wholesale and B2B industries, B2B brands should prepare to have a change of mindset.
The first step is to become comfortable with the fact that B2B customers come with a whole new list of expectations and be ready to address those needs. This means that companies need to take a new approach on everything, from messaging to software.
Change can be a sensitive topic for some of your staff, but if you are able to empower them with a clear goal in mind — your B2B business can take off.
If you get your culture set properly and get your staff aligned with the goal of going B2B, you can really do some really wonderful things. But if you don’t have that staff on board first, that’s the foundation. They’re going to be resistant, reluctant, and they’re not going to be a champion of the software that you’re going to put in front of them.
Once you have embraced your new approach, the next step is integrating and implementing new technology to help launch your B2B business.
Every business requires different plug-ins and features — and it all depends on what your customers need for an optimal user experience.
But, before you dive into more custom solutions, your B2B ecommerce store needs to be equipped with inventory management software.
Casey’s Distributing carries over 50,000 SKUs, so you can imagine how important it is to keep tabs on the amount of product we have on hand at all times.
This is why we invested in an effective inventory management software — Brightpearl — to integrate with our BigCommerce store.
Not only does effective inventory management bring transparency to your business, it also opens opportunities for omnichannel commerce — or in simpler terms, doing business both online and offline.
We were able to scale our growth by selling across various channels. With Brightpearl, we can keep tabs on supply and demand and, ultimately, support our retail partners at a maximum level.
Casey’s Distributing has strategically navigated B2B ecommerce through the years by embracing technology like BigCommerce.
By managing thousands of SKUs of all the many types of products — mugs, tumblers, bobbleheads, pennants and more — in real-time, we’ve become the nation’s largest distributor of professional and collegiate sports products.
Remember this: Customer experience should always be a top priority — and investing in the right technology solution is the first step in finding success and opening the door to more B2B market opportunities.
Register for this year’s Make It Big Conference in order to unlock the full story of Casey’s Distributing and key B2B market strategies on how to successfully sell online.
Ben Johnson is the founder of MaxQV, LLC, an agency leader in maximizing productivity through the use of technology and President of Casey’s Distributing, Inc., the nation’s largest distributor of NFL, MLB, NCAA, NBA and NHL licensed sports products. Ben’s knowledge, experience, and passion for ecommerce, wholesale, and retail has helped many businesses achieve record revenue growth and profitability. He is a featured speaker at conferences and a trusted media resource.