4 Important Technology Changes Affecting Promo Distributors

While nearly all promo distributors have a website (hardly any are true e-commerce sites), most of the behind-the-scenes processes are still done manually, from finding products to tracking deliveries. This means plenty of hours and profits are lost to admin each year. No distributor started their business with the intention of spending half of their time doing admin. But the lack of systems and integration has held back business automation. 

The good news is the promo industry is now starting to change and embrace digital technology that’s already prevalent in other industries. Cloud technology and API’s are allowing best of breed applications connect like never before. 

These are the 4 important technology changes that will affect distributors in the near future.

1. Supplier Product Data

Current: According to the recent APPA Survey on Product Data and IT Systems, 58% of distributors still manually upload product information into their database. This involves entering hundreds of products each time. Apart from being time-consuming, products are hard to keep up to date and the same product data is entered time and time again for different quotes. Supplier data is often in inconsistent formats, decorations vary across suppliers and it’s complex due to the number of quantity breaks, decoration options and shipping options. 

Solution: Promodata is an APPA and industry initiative with the objective of making supplier data easier for distributors to manage.  Promodata converts supplier data into a single and consistent format which is then stored into a central online database. Updated daily for API suppliers or manually by non API suppliers the data can then be exported for use in websites, quoting systems, or third-party applications. Accessing reliable up-to-date supplier product data is suddenly going to get a whole lot easier.

2. Product Search 

Current: A recent APPA member survey put improving APPA search as the number 1 member priority. Matching products with customer requirements is the main function of a distributor. With over 100,000 Australian products on offer, finding the right product at the right price and in stock can be a huge time-consuming task. Not for much longer.

Solution: Promodata categorises and tags supplier data to make the search much more powerful.  Distributors will be able to sort products by type, supplier, colour, material, price, shipping times, and stock availability all from a single browser.  Time will be cut down dramatically as there will no longer be the need to search across multiple websites, make many telephone calls, and send emails to check stock availability and pricing. 

3. E-commerce

Current: There are very few true e-commerce distributor websites in Australia. Having a few products with indicative pricing or an “Enquire Now” button is not e-commerce. Even if a customer can add a product to a cart and get an online quote, its odds on the order will then have to be processed manually at the back end. 

Today’s customers have been brought up on e-commerce. They often buy online and expect order tracking, production updates and great online customer service to be standard, not an exception. Millennial and Gen Z buyers (now the largest percentage of buyers) prefer digital as their primary form of interaction. The promo industry is well behind other industries when it comes to e-commerce. Customers now expect to be serviced online as well as face to face.  Promotional Product Distributors really need to catch up. 

Solution: An eCommerce website is more than just a front-end website. Today, it’s the equivalent of a retail store.  It therefore needs to be good.  Products on the website need to match products in the back-end quoting and job management system. A web inquiry or quote request should flow from the website into the same product data set in the quote and order management system. That way any admin work is minimised. Distributors can then spend their time getting more customers to the website rather than managing and manually responding to requests.

Brandengine is one of the first solutions available that truly integrates product, web and management into one automated solution.

4. End-to-End Integration

Current: An end to end integrated solution is a data-driven solution. Product data created by the supplier then flows to a distributor’s website. A customer places an enquiry, a quote is generated, the artwork is created, an order placed, couriers tracked, invoices issued and stock replenished. No rekeying, no data entry mistakes, ultra-fast response, and the end customer is kept up to date through the whole process. This is not where the industry is now. 

Solution: Promodata combined with SAAS solutions such as Brandengine are the first steps towards an end to end promotional merchandise solution. Each process is a part of an integrated whole. There are still a few pieces to put in place but Brandengine will offer end-to-end integration in 2022. The first step of that journey starts in November 2021.

Sign up for a free test drive or see a demo today! 

Harness the full potential of your promo company today with Brandengine!

Be powerfully driven!

Please fill in the form below and we’ll be in touch to arrange an obligation free demo and setup your test drive…

…or check our availability and book a demo here
(Opens in new window)

Brandengine is only for Promotional Product Distributors of Promotional Products in Australia and New Zealand. A demo will not be available if you are not a business to business promotional product distributor.