CRM for Wholesalers & Distributors: How to Integrate All Systems for Better Insights


Wholesale Distribution is reimagining itself probably more so than other industries under the rule of a pandemic. When social distancing is the new norm, companies are trying to automate every possible leg of the process from manufacturer to the client.

This is when warehouse, logistics, shipping, and distribution software are expected to further help this niche cope with arising challenges. CRM for wholesalers and distributors is one part of the tech stack that’s as vital as an ERP or BPM. 

In this piece, we are considering how to use CRM for distributors to grow business, synergize links of the distribution chain, and precipitate client acquisition.

The Genesis of the Distribution Industry

In the USA alone, the total wholesale distribution revenue for 2019 is worth $5.970 trillion, which is over a quarter of the national GDP at 27.5%. The industry employed just under 6 million people in 2019.

Distribution of groceries is the one that is on its record high as people keep ordering food for home delivery and cook more food a la minute for the entire family, as opposed to grabbing a quick fast food bite.

Petroleum, electrical, equipment, metal industries are declining and their respective subsegments that deal with distribution, shipping, and logistics are suffering too.

Motor vehicles and their parts, alcoholic beverages, and hardware are on the record high, just like groceries.

This reflects the trend of the saving mode that many people have switched into as the future is uncertain, where high-check investments are put away for better times.


Tech Stack of the Wholesale and Distribution Niche

In this chapter, let’s consider the tools used in the industry by retailers, wholesalers, distributors, and agents alike, so we can further understand how they can be integrated with the CRM for distribution and logistics business.

Distribution software

Distribution software has the elements of many of the narrower tools, like warehouse and inventory management features, and is designed to monitor, control, and manage the movement of goods at all stages of the process from manufacturer to end-user.

Key features

  • Barcoding
  • Import / export management
  • Inventory management
  • Order management
  • Returns management
  • Sales forecasting
  • Shipping management
  • Warehouse management

Top distribution solutions:

  • Sage 100 cloud
  • Accumatica
  • Effiasoft
  • Osas
  • Syspro

Warehouse management software

WMS is designed to automate, control, and track the movement, storage, transportation of the goods in the warehouse.

Key Features:

  • 3PL management
  • Barcoding
  • Forecasting
  • Inventory, order, quality, returns management
  • Purchasing
  • Real-time synchronization
  • Shipping module
  • Receiving/putaway management

Top WMS solutions:

  • EZ Office Inventory
  • Microsoft Dynamics
  • Blueyonder
  • Logiwa
  • Zoho Inventory
  • Tecsys
  • Infor

Inventory management software

Inventory management software is created to facilitate the control of production, logistics, and fulfillment of goods and products levels for retail and wholesale.

Key Features:

  • Inventory optimization
  • Kitting
  • Multi-channel management
  • Product Identification
  • Reorder management
  • Reporting / Analytics
  • Retail Inventory Management
  • Supplier management
  • Warehouse management

Best Inventory Management software solutions:

  • Square for retail
  • Lightspeed POS
  • NetSuite
  • ShopKeep
  • QuickBooks
  • ShopVentory
  • Odoo
  • Skubana

crm for wholesale

Logistics software tools

Logistics software is designed to automate, track, monitor, control, and analyze the flow of goods and products from along the supplier chain from manufacturer to end-user.

Key Features:

  • 3PL Management
  • Barcoding RFID
  • Cross-docking
  • Fleet management
  • Inventory management
  • Shipping management
  • Supplier management
  • Order management
  • Transportation management

Popular logistics software:

  • ArcGIS
  • MyRouteOnline
  • Onfleet
  • Excalibur
  • Logitude
  • Logistic Software

Why integrate CRM for distributors with other software?

Now that we have briefly touched upon the main industry-specific systems that comprise the tech stack of any player in the wholesale industry, let’s see how a client management relationship tool fits into it.

The synergy of systems: more efficient together

When all software solutions are interconnected via API or 3rd party 2-way sync tools like Zapier, systems enhance each other creating new efficiencies through the synergy of capabilities.

By combining data from other systems, CRM can then create reports, attach those data points from other systems to tasks, deals, and contacts.

One-shop overview of major metrics

When all integrated data flow into one system, it’s up to the user then to create a dashboard with the most relevant data for each of the departments.

Business owners and senior management will get a one-screen helicopter view with the possibility to deep dive into the metrics that raise concerns if needed.

Sales & marketing boost

CRM for distributors will be especially appreciated by the sales and marketing people.

Nimble Prospector extension allows adding contacts from social media in a few clicks, minimizing the boring mundane manual data input process.

The contact field is then populated with up to 40 different data points that include info on the employing company and the individual alike.

The prospecting and client research stage is a breeze with this tool.

Level 80 customer loyalty

Customers nowadays expect the omnichannel presence of the business. They want you to know all of their communication across all platforms possible.

This is where the best CRM for distributors can help. All of the communication in email and social media is attached to an account for easy overview and access.

Account managers can comment and share social media posts from inside the social CRM like Nimble.

A great marketer knows, it takes 5 times the money to acquire a new client as it is to keep an old one. Even more so in B2B, which wholesale and distribution really are.

Client LTV value is usually calculated in tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars and this communication needs to be flawless. This is achieved by keeping all of the communication in an integrated network of systems, that includes a client relationship management system.

Best Practices of using CRM in the Wholesale Distribution Industry

Keep retailers, manufacturers, agents, distributors in one database

Having disparate systems having different sets of your contacts is a bit annoying. If your warehouse management system has one set of contacts and inventory management another, it gets confusing sooner rather than later.

The best CRM systems for wholesale and distribution don’t have a limit of contacts to carry as part of the database, so you can have them all in: colleagues, team members, partners, retailers, brokers, distributors, etc. This also allows users to attach specific team members and partners to certain deals and tasks, so you can always check the statistics and status quo of each process and related parties.

Schedule your day with priorities in mind

If you use Pomodoro or GTD as a technique for managing your time and deep work sessions, it is vital for good time management to have major chunks of work for the day marked in your calendar.

The best practice is to have your day planned in the last minutes of the previous working day. This way the foundation is pretty clear as well as the priorities and urgent matters. Planning your main tasks for the day ahead at the end of the day before also allows users to take into account all last-minute adjustments to your routine that only popped up recently.

It’s best to plan 3 important pieces of work in your peak productivity slots and 3 mundane but urgent matters for low-productivity times of the day.

Distribute tasks among team members

Team management doesn’t have to be never-ending micromanagement.

Nimble allows you to create, assign, postpone, complete tasks inside a sophisticated yet comprehensive task management module.

You can assign a specific task to a deal and respective pipeline, as well as attached certain contacts from the team and partners. 

Nimble can be integrated with two-way sync with systems like Asana and Trello via Zapier or API, so that you can keep using your favorite tool, but have a helicopter picture of all processes with the CRM. 

Monitor pipeline for forecast accuracy

Having deals lined up in the pipeline is a great indicator of the health of sales and marketing efforts.

A client relationship management tool allows creating customer pipelines as well as suggests default ones.

If a business analyses the pipeline regularly, at least once every quarter, it is in a position to spot any deviations, get down to the bottom of it, and diagnose the disease while it’s still possible to cure it or even prevent it at a low cost.

Boost ERP, BPM, inventory management tools

Many bigger players in the distribution business will use Enterprise Resource Planning systems or Business Process Management tools as consolidators for all the data incoming from different systems, like warehouse management software and inventory management software.

When integrated with a CRM, such systems enhance each other, multiplying the benefits from their use exponentially.  

Mass email to your default and custom segments to save time

Emails and written communication are such routine work, that it’s probably on every professional’s least favorite thing to-do list.

Nimble has exciting features, like mass mailing, open rate tracking, and social media integration, that make email so much more efficient and even somewhat exciting.

Need to advise all retailers about your low season given the upcoming Chinese New Year celebrations? No problem, just pick a segment and shoot an email to a hundred contractors in one go.

Regularly have an analytical deep work session 

Analysis Paralysis is the disease too many businesses have and too few do something to counteract it.

Data is only as good as the insights derived from its analysis.

It’s essential to book a session of data deep dive every month or bi-monthly.

Get your major Department heads and have them ready to present their respective reports to the team – so that all parties can brainstorm on the interconnecting reasons and the best way to counteract any potential threats.

Nimble: wholesale CRM software to grow your distribution network

Nimble CRM is a universal tool that offers customizability and a user-friendly interface to serve as the bifurcation point for your network of tools.

It pulls the data from all tools to combine and multiply it by letting it go through its modules.

Over 140 thousand professionals use Nimble to save 90 minutes a day.

Find out why Nimble consistently gets into the top of the list of independent review sites like Capterra and G2Crowd as one of the best CRM tools out there. Try Nimble CRM for free for 2 weeks, no credit card required.