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Many people dream of owning their own business, and with the internet, it’s easier than ever to make that dream a reality. Being a stockist is one way of achieving this. And since many companies enlist the services of a stockist when expanding their operations abroad, this role becomes ever more important in today’s e-commerce market. So what are stockists and how do they help companies extend their reach globally? What challenges and opportunities do these stockists face, especially in the aftermath of a pandemic?
A stockist is a type of retailer who keeps products on hand for a specific kind of sale, with their business operations largely dependent on variables such as time, location, and demand. Stockists store goods in bulk and work like a mini supply chain, handling all sales, labour management, distribution, and delivery. Stockists also work closely with distributors, as stockists help them meet sales targets through the provision of products.
On the other hand, a wholesaler obtains products directly from the manufacturer and sells them to retailers who then resell them to consumers., A stockist can also double up as a retailer who stores the products and sells them directly to the customers.
Stockists serve as an important commerce vehicle that helps small and medium enterprises (SME) raise their profile and popularity. This gives the SMEs an opportunity to compete with the bigger and more established brands. Without the help of stockists, SMEs will find it hard to operate in such a highly competitive global market. Cross-border stockists can help local businesses reach a new customer base and increase their sales.
With the help of stockists, some Malaysian brands are gaining ground in popularity across the world. This has inspired more businesses in Malaysia to partner with stockists to expand their reach. One of them happens to be Naelofar, a Malaysia grown modest wear brand founded by Neelofa, a Malaysian entrepreneur and celebrity. Having gone through a digital makeover, Naelofar’s online store is now able to make its modest wear clothing such as hijabs available internationally, this is largely attributed to Naelofar’s partnership with many cross-border stockists.
Another well-known Malaysian brand that gained enormous popularity is Orkid Cosmetics. The brand is in partnership with a cross-border cosmetics and skincare stockist, and this has helped the brand expand and reach out to its target audience beyond the shores of Malaysia.
Due to the pandemic, stockists worldwide are facing numerous challenges due to supply chain disruptions, but with challenges comes opportunities:
Choosing the brands to engage with as a stockist can be a challenge. After all, you’d want to make sure your own customers trust you for quality products. At the same time, paying attention to accessibility, variety and target audience match is key. When it comes to narrowing down brands to partner with, consider their:
Target audience: Once you understand the brand’s target audience, you can reach out to the same clientele to create greater access to these products.
Product mix: Being able to provide a variety of products lets you emerge as a dependable and resourceful stockist.
Marketing strategy: If the brand markets their products well, it means that they have garnered significant awareness. With that, the appeal and demand of your brand’s products will make your stockist business a lucrative one.
It can be difficult to find a brand that is a good fit for your store, but it is important to take the time to find the right partner. The right brand can help you attract new customers, increase sales, and improve your bottom line.
Another challenge that stockists face is the issue of customer retention and how they can provide consumers a good shopping experience. As a stockist, you can always attract more customers, but they can never replace the existing ones who are loyal and already have a connection with you. Therefore, it is important to seize this opportunity and provide a personalised shopping experience that will turn these new shoppers into loyal customers.
As consumer behaviour evolves alongside the growth of e-commerce, many customers have begun to use multiple channels to make their online purchases. For example, they may visit a brick-and-mortar shop to view and test products, but order them online at a later stage. Conversely, they may order online but opt to have the goods picked up at a physical store instead. Businesses that are able to offer such omnichannel experiences have an advantage. This e-commerce and competitive challenge presents new opportunities for Malaysian stockists to also set up e-commerce websites to differentiate themselves from the competition and offer customers a seamless and omnichannel shopping experience.
With growth and advancement in e-commerce comes change in marketing processes. Modern marketing is all about being digital, and it involves marketing across multiple channels such as social media platforms, emails, paid advertising, etc. Stockists would need to understand and embrace this challenge and take advantage of the opportunities it provides by developing multi-channel marketing strategies to grow their customer bases.
Another challenge faced by stockists is the need for a reliable international shipping company to help them distribute products to the distributors and customers. Logistics and shipping management is an important aspect of the business model of stockists, and working with a trusted and experienced logistics partner can help deliver products in a prompt and efficient manner.