Every year is the perfect time to grow and expand your wholesale business. However, with the year just starting, you have the perfect opportunity to put a plan in place and come up with ideas to take the business to the next level.
There is always room for improvement in any business. As a wholesaling operation, you deal with large-scale orders on a regular basis. That means your business needs to run as smoothly as possible so big spenders feel comfortable using your services.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of charting an expansion for your wholesale business. Let’s start by talking about planning!
Step 1: Plan Your Goals for the Year
If you want to undertake an expansion, you need to plan ahead. Expanding means new clients and, in wholesaling, that can translate to hundreds or thousands of additional products that you need to source and ship.
Setting ambitious goals is definitely the way to go. However, the more ambitious the goal, the more planning that it’ll require. A big expansion might require a lot of capital and additional manpower. By setting specific goals for the year, you can get a head start on finding the resources that you’ll need.
If you want to set multiple goals for the year, we recommend that you focus on one of them per quarter. That will give you enough time to plan and execute a goal and you won’t have too many initiatives demanding your attention all at once.
Telling yourself “I want to expand my business” is all well and good. However, that’s too vague a goal, which means you have no goalposts to aim for. Some great examples of achievable goals for a wholesaling operation include:
- Improving the checkout experience for customers
- Adding more lead-capture initiatives to your current efforts
- Creating a wholesale-only area for customers
It’s important to understand that growing a store takes a long time. By targeting specific, smaller tasks, you can make much more headway than if you focus on vague business goals.
Step 2: Analyze Your Customer Relations Process
Customer relations is perhaps the most important aspect of any online business. 82% of consumers in the US have stopped buying from specific businesses because of poor customer support. When you offer poor customer support, you run the risk of losing customers and all of the future orders they might make.
Repeat customers tend to increase their spending as the relationship with the business grows. After year three, repeat customers spend 67% more on average than at the beginning of the relationship.
As a wholesaler, you’re used to dealing with large-scale, expensive orders. However, the real gold at the end of the rainbow lies in cultivating long-term relationships with customers. That’s how real expansion happens.
Great customer relations can make up for a lot of pitfalls in e-commerce. If customers know that you have their back when you make an error and that you provide top-notch support, they’ll stick with you.
When it comes to improving the customer relations process, you need to take a look at specific metrics to see how you’re currently performing. Some of those metrics include:
- How long it takes you to answer customer requests on average
- Customer satisfaction after dealing with your support agents
- How many repeat customers you’re getting
If you’re not using a dedicated ticketing support system yet, now is the time to get started. Help desk software will enable you to offer support via a variety of channels. Plus, you’ll be able to monitor customer interaction metrics and even ask for feedback from customers.
Keep in mind – any help desk software is only as good as the people that you hire. Customer support should know your products in and out and they need to understand that the needs of a wholesale clientele are different than for retail customers.
Step 3: Make a List of Your Top 100 Ideal Businesses
If you’re having difficulties coming up with concrete expansion goals for the year, one great way to get ideas flowing is to take a look at what other businesses are doing. Instead of analyzing a business or two, we like to go all out and compile a list of your 100 ideal businesses.
These 100 businesses don’t need to be direct competitors or even be in the wholesale area. What you need to do is focus on online stores and identify at least one aspect of each business that you admire and that you think would make for a good improvement to your store.
To go about this process properly, we recommend that you create a Google Sheet or an Excel document. Compile the basic details for each business, including:
- Its name and website
- Contact and address information
- A brief overview of what the business does and what type of products/services they sell
- What is the main differentiator between this business and others in their area
- One aspect of the business that could potentially improve your operation
One mistake that a lot of people make is that they focus on online businesses such as Amazon or Google and they fail to drill down on specific aspects from those businesses that they can assimilate.
To give you an example, if Amazon makes it into your list, you might want to try and emulate their customer-first support experience. A great way to do that would be to train your own support staff so they go above and beyond for customers.
100 businesses might seem like a lot but think about this as a brainstorming exercise. The process will enable you to come up with a large list of goals that you can boil down to the ones that you think will impact your business the most. If you have leftover goals, you can always seek to implement them next year.
Step 4: Trim the Fat from Your Business
Expansion isn’t always about adding new products, new services, and growing your team. Sometimes, the best way to take your business to the next level is to trim the fat. Discarding products that aren’t selling, discarding marketing initiatives that aren’t working, and turning your focus to a new set of goals.
It’s important to understand that you might not get to achieve every goal that you set out to. In some cases, the changes that you make might not benefit your business. If that happens, it can be smart to cut your losses instead of doubling down.
Let’s say, for example, that you decide to invest a significant budget on a paid marketing campaign. After a few months, the campaign isn’t giving you the results that you want. The best course of action, in that case, would be to:
- Try different marketing approaches to set what works better.
- If you don’t start seeing better results after a while, discard the campaign.
Doubling down on products, services, or marketing efforts that don’t benefit your store is a losing proposition. When you trim the fat, you get more time to focus on new goals that can yield much better results for your store.
Step 5: Acquire What You Need to Start Expanding
Once you have specific goals in place, it’s time to put together the tools and the resources that you’ll need to execute them. That might mean better tools, improved hosting, or even new hires.
If you’re not sure what resources you need, then it’s time to return to the drawing board. Outline each of the goals that you set out for the coming year. Consider what you need to get started with each of them and start drawing a budget.
For example, if you want to expand your support team to offer better customer relations, you’ll need to take into consideration how many customers you can currently handle. Depending on that figure, you’ll get an idea of how many new additions you need to make to the team and budget for them.
The same goes for software, if you think that you need better software tools to grow the business, it’s your job to compare options, features, and prices. When it comes to budgeting for expansion, you don’t always want to opt for the most expensive tools, but for those that offer the features that you need.
Expanding a wholesale business involves significant challenges. Growing sales isn’t just a matter of adding more products and hoping that customers will come. For a wholesale operation, you want to focus on aspects of your business that differentiate you from other vendors.
If you want to expand your business this year, we recommend that you map out specific goals for each quarter. Check out what your favorite online businesses are doing and how you can incorporate their teachings into your store and focus on improving customer support. That’s a surefire way to grow your wholesale business in 2022.
Do you have any questions about expanding a wholesale business? Let’s talk about them in the comments section below!