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Manufacturers: How to create a distributor portal that actually works

Published on 05 July 2022

Distributors are an important part of your company’s success. They sell your products, help establish a presence in their territory, and bring in new customers to your business.

To help your distributors be more successful, you need to ensure that they have the information they need. And the best way for distributors to get this information is through a website portal.

What is a distributor portal?

If you’re a manufacturer your website should be a hub for all things related to your business. It can serve as a valuable tool to market your products and services, but more importantly, it can help you better engage with the distributors who sell them.

A distributor portal is an area on your website designed to engage with, and provide information to your distributors.

portal graphic

A dedicated website distributor portal can:

  • Increase sales, by allowing distributors to easily order products and services
  • Support distributor growth with helpful resources and tools
  • Deliver personalised content based on each distributor’s needs
  • Save time for your staff by having all resources on your website
  • Cultivate better relationships with your distributors
  • Increases your brand awareness over your competitors

Once you have a distributor portal on your website, what are the best ways to make it work for your business and your distributors?

Provide a secure login area

Your distributor area might be publicly accessible, but there could be content or functionality that you don’t want to show to everyone. This could simply be non-public information, or it could be unique pricing for different distributors.

A secure area also allows you to monitor which distributors engage with your portal and how often, so you can gain insights into how your portal is used.

Interactive product catalogues

You may have thousands of products in your online catalogues, so your portal should include an easy-to-use search function that allows distributors to quickly filter products by category, price range, application, or other criteria.

This will allow them to easily find products they need, or that their customers need. And you could also link this up to ecommerce if you allow ordering through your portal.

Online ordering

You can include ecommerce capabilities in your distributor portal if relevant. Here you can showcase all your products in one place, which makes it easier for distributors to purchase or order from you online.

By having online ordering behind a login, you can set different price levels and availability for different distributors. You can also run promotions or incentives for distributors to buy.

You don’t need to take online payments either, you could just accept order requests that are paid on invoice or integrated into your accounts systems.

Media library

Offer free resources for your distributors to use in their marketing campaigns, including:

  • Brand assets including logos and brand guidelines
  • Promotional literature they can use in marketing campaigns
  • Photos and videos of your products that they can use on their own websites

Distributor list and location finder

You can allow your distributors to update their own profiles. This could be basic information such as contact details, or it could include multiple contacts and locations. You can even use this information to power a “distributor finder” or “dealer locator” type feature on your website.

What’s a distributor finder?

It may seem obvious, but if someone doesn’t know how to find your products in their area, they won’t buy from you. Your website can include a map with pins showing where each distributor is located and use a postcode search so customers can find their nearest distributor.

This information can all be powered by the distributor profiles and locations in the portal. And if distributors can update this themselves, it can be reflected on the website immediately (or via an approval process if you prefer).

Don’t forget a clear call-to-action button so consumers know how to contact their closest distributor. You could even include a form that will automatically copy in the distributor when someone makes an enquiry.

dealer locator

Show your distributor locations on your website

News, updates, and exclusives

Your distributor portal is a great place to introduce new products, and it's also a way for distributors stay on top of the latest news and updates. Distributors who regularly visit your portal will be more successful because they'll have access to the newest product lines, as well as information about events and sales promotions.

Exclusive content

Offer new and exciting products or product lines through your website portal first before releasing them anywhere else. This will make your distributors feel more special, while also giving them an incentive to use your portal.

Updates

Add your news and podcasts to your distributor portal. Your distributor portal should be a place where you share company updates and other relevant information. One way to do this is by adding a news section on the front page of your portal that highlights recent developments in the industry and new products or services coming onto the market, as well as other relevant topics that may interest potential customers. You could also show this information on your public facing website.

Case studies

Case studies can allow distributors to share examples of how they have used (or could use) a product or service successfully in their own businesses. You could provide a form in your portal where distributors could submit their case studies too.

Email newsletters

Lastly, to make sure your distributors return to your portal regularly, send out regular email newsletters with a preview of your latest updates. But don’t give it all away in the email, link your previews through to the full information on the portal.

Training and support

One of the best ways to help your distributors be more successful is through training. Training gives your distributors the understanding they need to better sell your products and increase their sales.

Add training assets to your distributor portal such as training videos, product guides, and technical downloads. Good training and support can make all the difference when it comes to helping distributors do better.

If you run training events, webinars, or offer one-on-one training, you can also allow your distributors to book these through your portal.

Distributors help you reach more customers and increase your sales, so giving them the support they need will be good for everyone.

If you want to find out more distributor portals, or how digital can help your business, we can help.