Some 98% of people believe that selling direct to the consumer will become important within wholesale over the next five years.
That was the finding in a poll of delegates attending a business-to-consumer (B2C) focused webinar organised by Confex during its virtual trade week.
NWT approached some of its customers that already had B2C websites and pitched the idea of putting all of its products on their websites with the agreement to deliver the orders. “This has been very helpful for us,” said Torrible. “We are delivering about 1,500 orders a month extra, but they are obviously a lot smaller orders than we were used to. We are piggy-backing off what our customers are already good at.”
Dunsters Farm’s B2C operation was prompted by local people asking – when there were supermarket shortages at the start of lockdown – if they could buy essentials such as toilet roll from the wholesaler. It responded by introducing contactless click & collect and then, within two weeks, it had built a consumer website. “It has gone pretty well,” said Mathew. “We have had a huge engagement with the local population. It is definitely something we will continue with, but it is very different from wholesaling.”
Making home delivery profitable is a challenge, they agreed. Some of the issues that need to be addressed are route selection; integration of systems (and automating manual processes); ensuring that any couriers used deliver to required standards; and keeping the chilled food chain perfect.
Mathew added: “I don’t believe you can compete on a value level. You have to look for a point of difference. Wholesalers can look at what their speciality is – what they’re good at.”
Torrible said: “It’s about what customers want and need. It‘s about utilising connections you have but not straying too far away from what you’re really good at already.”
They both also emphasised the importance of trying to increase basket spend and of marketing to consumers. “B2C is all about digital marketing – it’s a key difference from wholesale,” said Mathew.
Torrible added: “You need to market with the main players: Google, Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Instagram. Google Shopping is amazing; you will get sales from that. You can’t have relationships with every single customer you are trying to sell to, so you have to get something in front of them – your USP and why they should buy from you.”
During Confex’s virtual trade week, daily webinars are being hosted by managing director Tom Gittins and are open to anyone in the wholesale industry – not just Confex members. To register, visit: https://www.confex.ltd.uk/suppliersvts2020/
Forthcoming speakers include:
• Tanya Pepin and Tom Fender of Confex data partner TWC
• James Bielby of the Federation of Wholesale Distributors
• Keith Parmer and Rob Furse of Millennium and Nousheh Paris and Kathryn Cowan of American Express
• Nick Redford and Warren Hamer of Arete Procurement.