Case Study

Direct to Retail with Omnichannel B2B Commerce

How a food brand has expanded their retailer base with wholesale commerce software

Delhi, India
"I’m glad we have Edistera. We’re using Edistera Rep for our sales team & Edistera Direct for many of our wholesale buyers. Our buyers love mobile ordering, people are ordering products that they wouldn’t have ordered before. Overall, it’s an excellent product. "
Varun Ahlawat, Sales & Marketing, Kolhu

Kolhu is India’s upcoming khandsari sugar brand, manufacturing and selling since 1960s. Kolhu’s customers include online marketplaces, mom-and-pop stores, supermarkets, and the hospitality industry.

Kolhu has a core customer base in small mom-and-pop stores. Varun Ahlawat, who runs Marketing and Sales for Kolhu, says of the smaller stores, “We have a small team of field sales reps who go to store and take orders. We don't want to work through distributors because we get unfair terms as we are an upcoming brand. We have seen building trust and relationship with small stores is paying us off well with margins but its hard to manage order as order sizes are small but larger numbers and we could only afford a small team to keep up with orders & onboarding new customers.”

Varun realized that managing wholesale orders required a more seamless sales and ordering process, and that this meant leveraging technology. He turned to Edistera to power his sales reps with Edistera Rep, a mobile order writing app, and his customers with Edistera Direct, a B2B eCommerce mobile app.

The Ease of Automation

Before using Edistera’s B2B eCommerce solution, Kolhu salespeople would primarily use field visits and phone to receive orders from customers. Orders taken by phone were susceptible to errors caused by misheard/typos information, and orders taken by field visit often included illegible orders and also consume lot of travel time. Next, Kolhu's back office team would have to manually enter orders into their ERP—which carried the risk of typos. These snags resulted in wasted time as errors would snowball throughout the order fulfilment process.

Varun relates how much simpler technology-enabled order fulfilment is: “Now, in the morning, we see the orders that have come in from Edistera Hub. It sends the order confirmation sms, so customers know their orders are on the way. That’s great; we don’t have to do much.”

The back-office team is also able to have greater control over product and pricing information that’s being viewed in the field. While paper catalogs are outdated the day they’re printed, the team keeps their digital catalog up-to-date with the latest stock information and comprehensive product descriptions, syncing as soon as it's updated.

In addition, Varun updates product inventory levels in Edistera Hub on a daily basis, so sales reps and customers alike are always aware of what’s in stock when placing orders. What’s more,  Kolhu has chosen to hide out-of-stock items from their digital catalog altogether, which has eliminated costly backorders. Kolhu now relies on this inventory management system in Edistera Hub as a trusted source of truth over their ERP, finding it to have better accuracy. Kolhu has noticed that a completely automated and accurate sales process has been key to establishing credibility with customers, particularly when expanding their business with larger retailers.

Bigger Stores, Bigger Orders

Given the substantially larger orders that are placed by big-box customers, Kolhu has found it more lucrative to send sales reps to meet with them onsite. Between sales rep visits, Kolhu’s buyers make use of their online ordering portal to place orders on their own time. This omni-channel sales strategy, in which suppliers give their buyers multiple options to place orders from them, is used by brands like Kolhu to differentiate themselves. In the competitive world of food distribution, retailer buyers, particularly larger ones, have their pick from thousands of vendors fighting for shelf space. The winning supplier is the one that makes ordering most convenient.

Kolhu is seeing the impact of their omni-channel strategy across their business, with strong customer adoption of their B2B eCommerce portal and increasingly larger orders.

Results after Implementing Edistera

Significant Customer Adoption

65% of Kolhu’s buyers place orders online, an adoption rate significantly higher than the industry average for manufacturing and distribution of 44%. Kolhu drove adoption of their B2BeCommerce app using three main strategies.

  1. Pre-Launch Marketing
    Before the launch of Edistera Direct, Kolhu created and sent a marketing flyer on whatsapp letting buyers know that online ordering was coming soon. They also included a footer in all communications that made mention of the upcoming launch.
  2. Calls and Personalized Onboarding
    For a personalized approach, the Kolhu team called all high value accounts when the portal was launched. In addition, for buyers that were perceived as potentially less tech-savvy, arrangements were made for a personal onboarding session to walk them through placing their first order. “I wanted to get them set up, and then after that, they’ve been doing it on their own,” says Varun of their onboarding process.
  3. Recurring Promotional Messages
    Kolhu’s marketing team sends weekly promotional messages announcing sale items. Buyers are able to login, quickly view, and buy any items on promotion for the week.

Higher Order Value

Since rolling out Edistera Direct, their online ordering portal, Kolhu has seen a significant increase in their buyers’ order size—on average, they have seen orders double across the board. This increase can be attributed to several factors. First, the self-service nature of B2B eCommerce results in greater product discoverability. Second, buyers are more likely to experiment with new products given the ease of ordering. Where inquiring about a new product previously required calling a Kolhu sales rep to learn more, buyers placing online orders can now proactively read product descriptions in the digital catalog, and they find it low-risk to add a box to their cart.

More Strategic Selling

Before Kolhu automated their sales process, the team spent hours on the phone and field with customers writing and troubleshooting orders. Now that a bulk of orders are placed online, Kolhu makes use of the in-person sales visit to add more strategic value. Notes Varun, “We try to visit all strategic stores and talk to the owner, make suggestions based on their space. A lot of people don’t know what products to keep and what not to keep, and we can help with that.” In this way, Kolhu uses technology to automate the transactional components of the sales process, enabling them to leverage their deep expertise as a niche food brand and provide significantly more value to their customers.

Today’s B2B buyer can afford to be choosy. Whether it’s the convenience of online ordering or a consultative, in-person conversation with a sales rep, the modern food retailer prefers to do business with brands that make life easy. Companies like Kolhu have been able to provide this convenience using mobile order writing and B2B eCommerce solutions, automating their previously manual processes.

To find out how Edistera B2B Commerce Cloud can help your business reach larger customers by automating your sales and ordering processes, contact us today.