Christmas can be the best or worst time of the year for some entrepreneurs, depending on how well they manage the movement of goods. Nobody wants to be caught with a stock shortage during the season or an overstock situation post-season because their goods did not get across borders on time. Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic experience has pushed supply-chain operations at the top of the agenda, with the logistics industry now at the fore, albeit beset with major challenges. This month, the Entrepreneur Weekly tackles logistics management as we help entrepreneurs to make the best of peak season.
Firstly, let us set the context for these upcoming conversations by deep diving into Distribution. Distribution can be described as the activity of both selling and delivering products and services from manufacturer to customer. It’s also so important that as small businesses expand and go global, it becomes increasingly important to have distribution to ensure that customers and all members of the distribution channel are pleased.
Things to Know About Distribution
The idea of Distribution is quite a vast concept and has many moving parts. Today, we’ll look at how small businesses handle the movements and flow of their products and services. According to Investopedia, “A distribution channel is a chain of businesses or intermediaries through which a good or service passes until it reaches the final buyer or the end consumer. The three distribution channels are wholesalers, retailers, and direct-to-consumer sales.”
Each of these have considerations but each asks the important question: How do we get our products to our consumers? Therefore, this post will provide surrounding context for you to answer this question and useful ideas if you’re looking to find the best distributor for your products or if you are handling distribution yourself.
Considerations for your Distributor
There are many small businesses that will go through distributors. Here are a few things to do when you want to secure a distributor.
Price as precisely as possible, this involves doing as much research as possible into market prices within your industry. According to Score, “Communicate with your distributor about the recommended manufacturer’s suggested retail price so different distributors don’t sell your products at different price points.”
Continuing on the issue of money, Score encourages entrepreneurs that, “Once you choose a distributor, clearly define the payment terms in advance. Late payments will affect your cash flow and threaten your production and shipping operations. Consider offering a discount for paying when ordering or within 10 days of placing the order.”
Marketing material for your business and products is quite useful in securing and maintaining your distributor relationships. When first looking for a distributor, they might look for your website to find out basic details about your business like contact, location and product information. Additionally, marketing and sales materials might be needed by distributors for your products.
What Distributors Need to Know
If as an entrepreneur you are yourself a distributor, there are important considerations that you must continuously look into. In an Entrepreneur article titled 5 Secrets to Running a Successful Wholesale Distribution Business, Laura Benson, owner and founder of Jeanne Beatrice shared useful ideas for distributors. In the article she advises, “Both new and growing distributors must pay attention to consumer tastes and buying shifts—both of which can quickly derail even the best laid business plans. “Keep tabs on economic changes, what people are willing to spend, and other trends that could significantly impact your business,” says Benson.
Inventory management greatly impacts how as distributors your work can be effectively done. Distribution is greatly impacted by your inventory management systems and therefore it is important to have intelligent inventory management systems to support your business. Tracey Heins from Wholesale RDXSports said, “Ask any successful B2B wholesale dealer what the biggest headache is with running a distribution business and 99% of them will say “inventory management”. You simply can’t be successful in this industry if you don’t have a grip over the stock coming in and going out of your warehouses.” There are many technological tools that can be used to monitor the flow of stock that make for up-to-date and consistent stock management, such as Square POS, Ordoro, Shopify POS, Clover, Lightspeed and monday.com.
Finally, distributors must make an important point in their distribution business strategy to stand out from other distributors in the industry. According to an article titled Top 5 Tips for Running a Successful Distribution Business, “In an effort to stand out from the crowd, most companies are resorting to the oldest trick in the business book; lower prices and higher discounts.” Continuing, the writer said “While this strategy certainly does work, it only gives you short term gains. For long-term growth, you need to capture a consumer’s attention and retain it through outstanding customer services. Treat them so well that the thought of switching over to a different business doesn’t even cross their minds.”
For the month of October, Logistics Management will be the theme that informs the Jamaica Business Development Corporation’s (JBDC’s) conversation with entrepreneurs in the Virtual Biz Zone which will cover topics including ‘Moving Goods in the Christmas Rush’ and ‘MSME Benefits at the Border’ on October 11 and 18 respectively at 10:00am via Zoom. To register, visit our website at www.jbdc.net.