Wholesale 101: Technologies Every Small-to-Medium Wholesale Business Should Have

Technology has flattened the world and created equal footing between buyers and sellers, minimizing once important factors like manufacturer, distance, and country of origin. Technology empowers buyers so that they dictate how and where they want to buy, depending on where is cheaper or more convenient. At the same time, sellers have adapted to an environment where the survival of their business depends on how well they can use the available technologies to their advantage. 

The way e-commerce changed not just consumer markets (B2C), but also the wholesale trade (B2B) created a new landscape where there’s a fierce competition between sellers—all hungry for the consumers’ attention. The challenge for wholesale businesses now—especially those in the small-to-medium scale—is to find the right set of tools that can give them an edge over competitors in order to thrive in today’s market. 

We took the time to identify technologies that can help you, as a wholesale seller, achieve success based on the activities you do the most.

1. Designing your products

As mentioned earlier, today’s market is literally an arena for competitors. One must make an effort to gain the interest of buyers. Strategically label your product so that it stands out from the rest—the last thing you need are your goods looking exactly the same as your competition.

Being unique sells; having the right tools for design can mean the difference between selling goods and letting them grow old on shelves.

As a platform where clients and designers can find each other and collaborate, 99design is a cost-effective tool to address your design needs. You can tap into a pool of freelancers and either choose one designer whose work resonates with you or even run a contest where you pick the design you like best. All you need to do is to send a design brief to help them understand what your requirements are and what you want to achieve as a business. And if you’re happy with the design, you can work with the same designer on your next project. 

Similar to 99design, Fiver helps you look for designers that can put your concept into actual, inspiring designs. They specialize in logo designs but are also experts on other creative work.

That said, if you’re interested in making your own designs, Canva has thousands of templates that you can choose from. This allows you to be as creative as you can be when designing for your brand. Plus, it’s free!

2. Selling your products

To sell your products, you need a platform that allows you to showcase each item and tag a price on these items so that customers can buy from you.

With today’s advanced platforms, selling has become easier, while at the same time, much more complicated. From it’s humble roots in barter system to this age of online selling, the facets of making a sale has changed with the exception of two: (1) the demand for goods, and (2) the need to earn a profit. These are the forces that keep the market flowing.

Standing firmly at the top of the B2B and B2C industry, Amazon dominates the market with a combination of marketing skills and experience to make new businesses and keep existing ones. They have paved the way for most innovations in e-commerce and continuously improve their services to stay at the top.

Amazon’s best practices are viewed as a standard across different selling platforms. Your products can be seen by millions of users, allowing you to make a sale fast without the need to create a new standalone website. In short—if you’d like a proven, stable platform to sell your goods—Amazon is a great choice.

Shopify allows you to create your own online store within the platform, therefore giving you direct control. The good thing is that there are ready-made templates available. You just need to add your store details.

Shopify also allows you to sell your products on social media and in online marketplaces, and provides options for other online sales channels. Selling can be as easy as adding product details to your store and listing them as ‘available’ through one or more of your sales channels. 

3. Source and/or manufacture your products

If you’re manufacturing your own goods, it’s important to keep track of your assembly to make sure that there are no delays and that your production line is running as smooth as silk. An inventory management software with assembly functionality is a suitable choice if this is your case.

Outside of the features for advanced inventory, pricing, and reporting, QuickBooks Enterprise is also packed with features such as Assemblies that lets you:

  • Track finished goods separately from individual inventory items.
  • Customize the price of assembled items.
  • Quick access to information about finished goods.
  • Set reminders for future builds.

QuickBooks Enterprise features Cycle Count, which helps improve productivity by providing a real-time count of your inventory without having to shut down your warehouse. It also gives you the ability to scan barcodes in order to enter data which, in turn, speeds up the picking process and reduces data entry errors.

4. Receiving, managing, and fulfilling orders

You can’t consider a sale complete without your customers receiving the products they bought. Fulfilling orders accurately and within the agreed time is critical when making sure that they become recurring clients. 

This platform offers various tools to ensure that your shipments are exactly as ordered and on-time, all the time. It also connects you to different sales channels (if you’re using multiple) seamlessly.

ShipStation also allows you to manage and ship orders, check reports, communicate with customers and receive push notifications right from your phone or tablet.

5. Accepting payments/managing accounts receivable

Making sure you get paid correctly is, without question, the most important aspect of your business. Afterall, your profit is directly proportional to your success as a business. That said, it’s absolutely a must for you to guarantee payment collection.

Whether you’re creating a subscription service, an on-demand marketplace, an e-commerce store, or a crowdfunding platform, Stripe’s APIs and functionality can help you bill customers on a recurring basis, set up a marketplace, or accept payments with a fully integrated, platform that can support online and in-person payments. 

If speed is the name of the game, then, Square would definitely give you a headstart. It allows you to accept card payments as fast, painless, and secure as possible. It also lets you keep an eye on your cash flow with real-time updates about your sales and inventory.

Here at Sweet, we have created robust integrations with various B2B platforms and apps to help manage accounts receivables. We make it easier for you and your customers to manage payments and accounts receivables by:

  • Providing a self-serve portal to log in and see their balance and open invoices.
  • Allowing you to set up different, convenient options for payment, e.g., credit card, ACH, etc.
  • Enabling better communication of order issues through order comments and direct messaging.

6. Keeping your team on the same page

Despite all the technology that surrounds your business, the human element of your company is still an important part of keeping you afloat. Tools like G Suite and Slack can make sure that there’s constant collaboration with your personnel. You can also equip your employees with tools like Evernote and Trello so they can track the progress of their work in real-time.

7. Managing your books and business performance

Accounting requires you to be meticulous. If not done properly, this could lead to dire consequences, affecting your entire business. A reliable software that helps you better manage your books and evaluate your performance can be a key to your success.

QuickBooks Online is an accounting software that includes tools to keep your books accurate and up to date, automatically. It features invoicing, cash flow, expense tracking, and more, all in one platform. It’s hosted online and allows you to sync apps that you may already use—like Paypal, Shopify, and Square.

Once your apps are all synchronized, QuickBooks Online automatically streamlines your data to help your productivity.

8. Managing payroll, legal, and other overhead issues

You owe it to your employees to provide accurate compensation and benefits. The last thing you need is your own people suing you for not paying them right. The way you treat your employees reflects on how they treat your customers. Here are some tools to help you with that:

They’ve built an easy-to-use HR management platform that combines payroll and other HR tools which can scale with you as your business grow. Gusto can also empower your employees with a self-serve option they can access through their mobile phones and tablets.

Justworks can help simplify your business’ back office tasks with a powerful platform that lets you handle benefits, payroll, HR, and compliance—all in one place.

Like the two above, Zenefits has integrated various HR tools so you can do less paperwork and focus on growing your business. They also encourage a mobile-first mindset that gives your employees more control and freedom in managing their time and benefits.

Technology in all of its forms is meant to make our lives easier. The key is knowing which of the options available is more useful when making our work or business efficient, profitable, and successful. Identify the key activities in your business and spend more time choosing which technology supports those important needs the most. As they say, you want to avoid trying to kill a fly with a sledgehammer?

Here at Sweet, we have integrations with various software tools to make the activities within your business efficient, cost-effective, and innovative. We’ve built a cloud-based, intuitive inventory management software designed for small-to-medium businesses. We'll make sure that your business will not just survive but will thrive in this competitive market we live in.