It’s no secret that a digital focus has crept into the way that consumers shop. We see it everywhere. Whether it’s browsing through products online, chatting with an online sales rep, or putting products into a virtual cart, the digital shopping experience is something that has become a part of the retail industry.
However, within the wholesale industry, it’s not uncommon to see brands and retailers work through the hurdles of outdated paper catalogs, huge spreadsheets, slow ordering processes, and unorganized brand story materials. But with the technology available, it doesn't have to be that way.
With the increase in demand, information, and with the changes happening with trade shows, continuing to do wholesale the same way is becoming a harder, more tedious process. In turn, the wholesale market must transition from being a manual operation to taking a more modernized digital approach in order to keep up. This gives brands the opportunity to lead the way by modernizing their wholesale channels.
We sat down with BioLite to talk about their success in adopting a modernized approach to wholesale and how they’re leading the way through easily integrating with a digital eCommerce platform, creating more efficient processes, and building better relationships with their partners and specialty retailers.
Leading the Way: BioLite
With a goal to facilitate a future where safe and reliable energy access is available for everyone, BioLite manufactures high-quality personal scale energy products including solar panels, lights, stoves, and other items for “off-the-grid” users. These “off-the-grid” users not only include those who are outdoor enthusiasts, but also those who do not have access to reliable energy like in areas of Sub-Saharan Africa.
BioLite recognizes the value of adopting a digital strategy for wholesale as a key component in propelling their business forward while maintaining their commitment to sustainability and corporate leadership.
“From the beginning, we have always seen the power of using digital platforms as a way to drive our business,” stated Erica Rosen, the VP of Marketing at BioLite. “We grow and learn every day by embracing digital solutions and are excited to apply lessons from our digital direct business to our wholesale relationships.”
To continue this model of embracing digital solutions, BioLite recently adopted Envoy B2B as their B2B platform to better align with the digital focus that retailers have been gearing towards.
“I guarantee that right now there are a bunch of retailers who are either building a website, updating their current website to include more dynamic experiences, or sharpening their digital capabilities somehow,” Rosen explained. “When both the brand and the retailer have a modern, digital strategy, it allows the brand to provide retailers with the education, products, and attention they need while enabling the retailers to exceptionally sell their season.”
By embracing Envoy B2B’s modernized digital solution, BioLite achieves three key outcomes:
- Ease of adoption
- Streamlined processes
- Better partnership with retailers
We’ll take a look at each one of these outcomes and how it has played a part in the continued success of creating a more modern, digitized approach to wholesale for BioLite and their retailers.
The Ease of Adoption
Before adopting Envoy B2B, BioLite vetted nine different B2B providers over the past eight months.
“Most of the platforms we looked at appeared to be easy to use,” explained Jonathan Kosakow, Associate Director of North American Sales at BioLite. “But when it came to Envoy, not only were they easy to use, but they were easy to adopt and work with. Every question we threw at Envoy, they answered.”
“Among that, Envoy became an extension of the BioLite experience through customizing the platform to look like our brand. This was a key feature for us,” Kosakow expressed. “Just like a booth at a tradeshow, our wholesale platform environment needed to feel on-brand and have the same level of quality and usability as any other BioLite product. And Envoy accomplished that through customizing it to our look and feel.”
Fast forward two months after deciding to go with Envoy B2B, BioLite’s site was already built and customized to their brand.
In addition, Envoy B2B was able to easily set up and integrate with BioLite’s NetSuite account in less than two weeks.
Having a modernized B2B partner who understands the importance of creating a quick, hassle-free integration with your business is a game-changer. The sooner a brand adopts, the sooner they’re able propel their business further and enable their retailers with digital tools like virtual showrooms, online catalogs, pay now features, central locations for co-op marketing materials, shoppable assortments, and more.
As a small team, the importance of easy-to-adopt, efficient processes was a critical piece that BioLite would not compromise on. Through adopting Envoy B2B’s modernized platform, BioLite has already seen the benefits of moving forward with a digital-focused approach.
“Previously, we would have to manually enter every order we got. Each order would take close to 15 minutes to enter,” explained Kosakow. “Since using Envoy, we don’t have to do that anymore. Within just one week of using their system, it allowed us to promote a member of our team and elevate them with more valuable responsibilities because of the time we saved.”
Having a digital B2B platform with more streamlined processes allows BioLite’s team to focus on bigger picture things like reaching more independent specialty retailers to grow their wholesale market and enabling their retailers. This transition to a modernized approach allows BioLite to let the platform work for them, instead of the other way around.
Better Relationships with their Retailers and Partners
With around 50 sales reps throughout the United States and Canada, creating a better digital partnership is vital to the success of BioLite’s organization. Because they adopted Envoy B2B, they are now able to grow their wholesale network and be a better partner with their retailers.
One way this is done is by giving their retailers more access to see inside of BioLite’s business. Within one month of launching Envoy B2B, they were receiving more meaningful interaction with outside sales reps.
“Previously, we were sending out weekly sales reports in a spreadsheet,” stated Kosakow. “But this spreadsheet wasn't easy to access for a rep driving between appointments who needed a simple sales history and a forward looking picture of the business. With Envoy, now sales reps can pull that information up on their phone and spend time having more meaningful conversations with retailers.”
Before Envoy, BioLite’s retailer conversations were bogged down with questions like, “When will my retailer’s order be here?” or “Is this item in stock?” but now Envoy B2B’s system enabled reps and retailers to access this information directly. This changed the conversations to be more brand and product focused, and allowed sales reps the ability to educate retailers and focus more on training.
In their first beta test they sent to a retailer, they found that the retailer ordered within 3 minutes of looking at the email. “This is a huge deal not only for us when they order quickly, but for the retailer as well. Any time you can simplify the ordering process and provide retailers with a greater knowledge of why your product is superior, it’s a win-win,” explained Kosakow.
Along with that, BioLite now has the benefit of housing all of their creative assets, instructional videos, cross-sell marketing pieces, and educational materials in one platform through Envoy B2B. This enables their retailers and partners to easily learn more about BioLite through one organized system and sell the product without the hassle of looking through multiple emails, files, and papers.
These modernized features have enabled BioLite to cultivate better relationships with their retailers and partners while enabling them to sell their season in the most efficient way possible.
Adopting a Digital Strategy
Brands adopting a modernized wholesale strategy is key to thriving in the industry. With retailers already taking charge in the digital space, brands need to follow in order to adequately enable their retailers for successful seasons. And with accomplished brands like BioLite leading the way, B2B wholesale companies can have more streamlined processes, better partnerships with retailers, and more rep enablement for continued success.