In the wholesale industry, many businesses have their roots in family traditions and have been operating successfully for generations. At OrderCast, we know that well - after all, our co-founder Ayoub first dove into wholesale while working at his father’s textile wholesaler operation, Assabban S.A., during the crunch of the COVID-19 crisis (read their case study here).
One of the key things that Ayoub saw, as he got further and further into the daily operations of the business, were the new opportunities and challenges in wholesale presented by the digital age. But he also saw that turning those opportunities and challenges into better wholesale businesses requires a shift in business operations.
Making that transition from a traditional family business to a digitalized one can seem daunting, but it's a necessary step to ensure continued growth and competitiveness. This article will guide you through this transition, highlighting some practical steps and strategies.
Understanding the Need for Digitalization
The first step in the transition is understanding the need for digitalization. Digital technologies can streamline operations, improve customer service, provide valuable data for decision-making, and open up new markets. While traditional methods may have served your business well in the past, things can’t remain as they were: today’s competition is using digital tools to improve operations and margins, and that isn’t going to change.
Invest in Digital Infrastructure
Transitioning to a digitalized business requires investment in digital infrastructure. This can include hardware like computers and servers, software like ERP and CRM systems, and connectivity solutions like broadband or cloud services. These tools form the backbone of your digitalized business, enabling you to automate processes, manage data, and connect with customers online.
Digitalizing Your Operations
Start by digitalizing your core operations. This could include automating order processing, implementing a digital inventory management system, or using digital tools for accounting and finance. The goal is to streamline operations, reduce manual tasks, and improve efficiency in as many fields as possible.
Build a Digital Presence
In the digital age, having a strong online presence is crucial. This could involve setting up a professional website, establishing a presence on social media, or listing your products on online marketplaces. A strong digital presence can help you reach a wider audience, build your brand, and drive sales.
Do note, though, that this won’t be a “set it and forget it” situation. The internet can be a powerful tool for your business but it also takes regular feeding to keep it running. Think about both short-term tactics (setting up social media accounts, revamping your Facebook page, etc.) and longer-term strategies (posting frequency, key topics, personnel needs…).
Train Your Team
Transitioning to a digitalized business isn’t just about technology; it's also about people. Similar to the job training they may have needed when first starting to work for you, you should provide training to ensure your teammates have the skills and knowledge to use your new digital tools effectively. This can improve their productivity, boost morale, and help ensure a smooth transition.
Maintain Your Family Business Values
While you're embracing digitalization, it's important to maintain the values that made your family business successful. This could include a commitment to customer service, a focus on quality, or a strong sense of community. These values can set you apart in the digital world and help you build strong relationships with customers.
Transitioning from a family business to a digitalized wholesaler is a significant step, but it's one that can open up new opportunities for growth and success.
And remember, digitalization is not about replacing the old with the new – it's about leveraging new technologies to enhance what you already do well. With the right approach, you can carry your family business into the digital age and ensure its continued success for generations to come.