There’s no doubt about it — the past few years have been challenging for retailers. From inventory issues, to the digital divide, to platform proliferation, things have not been easy when it comes to succeeding in this industry. However, when brands understand and address those challenges, it can help propel both brands and retailers forward into a brighter, more successful wholesale future.
Each year, Envoy B2B takes the time to survey over 3,000 retailers in our Retailer’s Challenge Report so we can better understand the challenges retailers face and what brands can do to help. The Outdoor Biz Podcast host, Rick Saez, sat down with Envoy B2B’s Matt Dobrowolski and BrandKeep’s Gabe Maier to look at the data from the 2022 report, talk through the top three challenges that retailers face, and discuss how brands can help support their retailers.
Listen to the podcast below or keep scrolling to read the podcast recap blog.
The Top 3 Challenges Retailers Face
Over the last several years, Envoy B2B has engaged retailers in their Retailer’s Challenge Report survey, however, the amount that the challenges have changed over the past year has been substantial.
In the podcast, Matt Dobrowolski reviews 3 of the biggest challenges that retailers faced over the past year. They included:
- Inventory Issues — From late shipments to lack of transparency, inventory has been a huge issue for the industry as a whole. Envoy B2B asked about retailers’ main challenges when it came to inventory and provided brands with helpful tips to solve many inventory issues throughout their recent report.
- The Digital Divide — A lot of brands have transitioned from doing business in-person to a hybrid, or even fully virtual, model. Many line showings and clinics are taking place virtually, with the aid of digital platforms like Zoom. Envoy B2B’s research exposes how retailers are reacting to the change and if they have found it to be successful.
- Platform Proliferation — Retailers are working across so many different platforms. It can be difficult for them to manage workflows across all their digital spaces. Envoy B2B surveyed retailers to find out what was working for them and what could be done about the current platform proliferation.
For an in-depth review of each challenge, click here to download the Retailer’s Challenge Report or continue reading the podcast recap below.
Challenge #1: What Can Brands Do To Help The Inventory Shortage?
With inventory being the number one challenge from the retailers’ perspective, Envoy B2B provided some great tips on how brands can help.
“The biggest thing I see from the brand level is having transparency with the retailers. From the retail level, it is the demand to see better inventory visibility,” stated Dobrowolski. “Let's say their pre-order for the upcoming season doesn't fully come through. Having the ability to look at what's available from the vendor or brand and purchase what’s available now is a major part of that.”
“The other one is understanding the forecast projection,” continued Dobrowolski.
When the rep understands their forecast projection, they can work with their buyer to understand when a potential supply chain issue could arise. Having that information up front is major for retailers.
Dobrowolski gave one final recommendation to brands: It’s important to have the right tools available for your retailers.
“Surprisingly, not all brands are on a business wholesale platform. Some are still shipping out of Excel. There are still brands out there where you have to call a dealer service representative to place an order. It's a very big challenge for the retailer who's incredibly busy. Retailers want to go on the website, see what's there and be able to order it, get a ship date, and get a confirmation,” Dobrowolski concluded.
Challenge #2: How To Bridge The Digital Divide And Build A Great Wholesale Experience.
The second challenge that Envoy B2B found in their Retailer’s Challenge Report was the challenge of building on a genuine new brand opportunity primarily through digital platforms. One interesting statistic found was that only 30% of the retailers surveyed indicated that a brand had successfully conducted a video conference line showing.
“To me, [that statistic] is kind of an entry point into bridging a larger subject, which over the last 5-10 years, we've seen a huge adoption of digital practices in the outdoor space. And oftentimes, it's a little bit of a push and pull,” stated Gabe Maier.
“If I were to suspect why, there are some obvious things like I can't touch the product and get a feel for fabrics. I think I would be surprised if we ever figured out a way to do those digitally in a successful way.”
Maier explained that many brands only think about their next cool way to show off their products by using the latest video technology. However, the reality is that brands need to be thinking about how they can broaden their technology to make sure that everyone in their dealer base is still going to derive value from what they are showing. A human-first approach to tackling your wholesale channel is needed where the technologies you implement are first and foremost designed to serve your users.
With so many line showings videos and conferences going digital and relying on video, brands need to remember that high-quality video is only as good as the screen that it's going to be viewed on. For more information on how to adopt a successful human-first wholesale approach, click here.
Challenge #3: Retailers Are Fatigued By Platform Proliferation. BrandKeep Is Here To Help.
Envoy B2B’s Retailer’s Challenge Report recently found that 97% of respondents use more than 25 different B2B platforms every week. That’s up 15 platforms from 2021. Retailers are spread thin across their digital experiences and they’re struggling to keep up.
“I think the B2B systems have become a lot more accessible from the brand standpoint. You see a lot more brands being convinced of the value that lies within using a B2B system. Maybe 70-80% of [retailers’] brands now have a B2B system and they have all these different systems that they need to learn. That's also trickling to how they get access to information, line sheets, or product data. It's definitely becoming more and more fragmented,” stated Maier.
In comes BrandKeep to the rescue, a sister company to Envoy B2B that focuses on organizing brand assets and eliminates the need to scour emails trying to find an order form, remember when orders deadline are, or locate a product catalog on a brand's website.
“The organization of things like order sheets, order confirmations, B2B links, passwords, and all that kind of stuff is really what BrandKeep is going to be trying to solve for the retailer,” Maier explained.
Retailers are living in emails, spreadsheets, and several different systems. Starting at the really simple point of basic organization is BrandKeep’s main purpose.
“Right before I left Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, NuORDER made an effort at trying to do this and it was implemented at Grassroots. From the retailers that I've talked to, it's still a huge struggle and it just takes a lot of collaboration. There's still a need to figure it out,” said Maier.
Dobrowolski chimed in, stating, “We truly want what's [best] for the brand to create a better environment for everybody. The big picture here is always going to be for the retailer. That's why a platform like Envoy B2B exists. And in turn, if we're the best place for that brand or we work the best for them and you know how their company works or vibes, that's the goal.”
The key takeaway for brands here is to keep it clean. That means ensuring your retailers can access all your assets, marketing materials, educational experiences, and selling tools in one destination.
Listen to the Rest of the Podcast!
Want more great insights, tips, and advice on how brands can better support their retailers? Make sure to listen to the rest of the podcast by clicking here and download our free 2022 Retailer’s Challenge Report.