Many wholesalers and distributors possess a wealth of untapped data. Despite having years of history with customers, decisions are often made based on instinct, and there's a lack of personalization in marketing, sales, and purchasing. The truth is, AI has the potential to transform all core functions for distributors, and companies that invest in AI today can create long-term competitive advantages.
Impact of AI in Wholesale and Distribution
Let's examine the impact of AI on key functions performed by wholesale distributors:
Winning in distribution doesn't necessarily mean selling better; it means buying better. In commoditized markets, which increasingly become buyer's markets as they mature, purchasing departments can leverage AI in the following ways:
- Demand Forecasting: AI models can analyze sales history, minimum order quantities (MOQs), inventory turnover, and customer inquiries to predict optimal restocking times. With AI, forecasting can extend beyond seasonal or sales trends, allowing for more accurate and real-time predictions.
- Dynamic Pricing: AI can monitor market conditions, alert purchasing teams to negotiate with vendors at the right time, identify opportunities for better deals from competitors, and even suggest new vendors to explore.
AI can play a significant role in sales, especially considering wholesalers' access to years of customer data. With the help of AI, wholesalers can:
- Improve average order values: AI can identify upsell and cross-sell opportunities at the point of sale, whether it's on a website, CRM, or other sales ordering applications.
- Enhance the active customer base: AI can predict which customers are most likely to place orders and help sales teams reach out to them at the right time. By optimizing long-tail accounts, AI ensures that all customers receive appropriate attention, not solely based on size.
- Identify potential accounts: Understanding every long-tail account in detail is impossible, but AI can surface accounts that have the potential to become significant in the future. This enables wholesalers to prioritize and focus efforts on nurturing these accounts.
- Dynamic pricing: Given that product costs are constantly changing, it's crucial to know when to promote or retain a product. AI can provide insights to make informed decisions on discounting specific products, offering special pricing to specific customers, and more.
Traditional marketing mailers often lack a personalized approach. Most marketing teams create cohorts based on basic indicators such as categories, size, or region and push mailers accordingly. AI can help personalize marketing outreach by identifying what products/ offerings entice specific customers, leading to significant improvements in conversion metrics. Best AI models integrate with your current marketing stack and enable this seamlessly.
4. Customer Service
Generative AI capabilities enable customer service teams to automate mundane conversations. AI-powered chatbots can now answer customer questions, process orders, and resolve issues without the need for human intervention, freeing up time to focus on critical issues or contribute towards sales goals.
By incorporating AI into these core functions, wholesale distributors can unlock their data's true potential and gain a competitive edge in the market. With personalized marketing, optimized purchasing, improved sales strategies, and enhanced customer service, companies can create long-term advantages that set them apart from the competition.