How Wholesale Distributors Can Compete With Direct-To-Consumer


Traditionally, Wholesale Distribution (WD) companies were the gatekeepers, or middlemen, for relaying products between the manufacturers and retailers. But lately, there has been an increase in demand for Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) practices.


Manufacturers are realizing that if they bolster their own retail experience, they can capture more profits by selling to their consumers directly.

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What Can Wholesalers Do To Compete Against The D2C model?


Although the change from the traditional distribution model comes from the intent of decreasing costs and increasing efficiency, Wholesale Distribution companies bring a tremendous amount of value to the supply chain model. Nevertheless, as best practices begin to change WD companies need to adapt to the new demands of the market. Implementing solutions, such as NetSuite for Wholesale Distribution, is among the best ways to meet these demands.

Here are a few other ways that Wholesale Distribution companies can compete with D2C:

1. Develop The E-Commerce Experience

An easy-to-use e-commerce platform isn’t only for Business-to-Consumer (B2C) models anymore. Lately, digital sales through online platforms have been providing substantial relief for wholesalers, and classically Business to Business (B2B) companies.

Recent years have shown that early adopters of an online store have been able to push their way into the space and establish digital real estate. It has also shown to be drastically more cost-effective to provide an online retail experience where customers can start and complete a purchase due to fewer steps in the buyer’s journey leading to higher conversion rates.

So it's looking more and more as if a strong e-commerce presence is the secret to a wholesaler’s success.

One of the many benefits of an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) tool, like NetSuite for Wholesale Distribution, is the ability to integrate all of your systems into one single location. If you’re looking to fortify your e-commerce experience and decide on an e-commerce platform, like Shopify, there’s a way to connect your systems.

Do you already have NetSuite in place and you’re looking to get started with an e-commerce platform?

Read this guide to find out how NetSuite can work with Shopify.

2. Omnichannel Selling

Although it’s important to offer an easy-to-use e-commerce experience, trends suggest that buyers will likely continue to prefer omnichannel services in general.

There has been a growing preference for multiple purchasing channels. Customers want to be able to access services on mobile, web, and physically (in-person).

Omnichannel is now a leading preference for consumers, and they demand this service from sellers.

B2C companies have been increasingly offering personalized options and ease of use, and now B2B companies are starting to follow suit. This is because B2B buyers are individuals who also shop for themselves, and so they expect the same level of convenience and customization in their business dealings.

Learn how to manage stock across all of your channels with the Demand Planning & Supply Management Solution module for NetSuite.

3. Smart Inventory Management

Since wholesalers deal with warehouses and bulk products, managing multiple warehouses or large bulk orders can become more and more complicated. Nevertheless, to maintain a competitive edge over models with lower overhead costs, being smart with inventory management is crucial.

The best way to do this is by adopting inventory management software, either as a standalone solution or an all-encompassing solution such as NetSuite ERP.

There are many benefits of intelligent inventory management.

With NetSuite, it’s easier to: 

  • Monitor stock at a glance.
  • Determine what goods are selling and which ones aren’t.
  • Project demand.
  • And much more.

Take a look at these in-depth tips for maximizing savings and efficiency with smart inventory management for more information.

4. Data Analysis Through Business Intelligence

Since the 2010s, big data has exploded as a major source of decision-making information and has accelerated ever since. It has been an asset for many companies in many different industries, and it’s no different for wholesale distribution businesses.

Data constitutes everything from how frequently a customer orders products to the type of products they prefer and changes in their routine. With these types of analytics, wholesalers can be supplied with a comprehensive view of company operations and success.

This data can be drilled into to create sales forecasts, anticipate demand, or can even help re-evaluate major processes within the company. 

This type of information, for the longest time, was inaccessible for mid-market businesses, due to the higher cost of implementing a solution.

Nevertheless, with more and more solutions being offered by companies such as Google, Amazon, and even NetSuite more companies can exploit their data without considerable capital outlay.



If you use ERP software, like NetSuite, the chances are high that much of that data is already available. Likewise, if you operate a digital storefront on a B2B marketplace, you likely have free business intelligence tools that can help. An all-encompassing BI solution will allow you to export data from NetSuite into Google sheets or excel.

If you’re interested in learning more about Business Intelligence solutions, click here to take a look at Business Intelligence for NetSuite, Powered by GURUS.

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