Unitas links with EchoPay and introduces loyalty competition

Unitas has formed a partnership with EchoPay with the aim of helping its wholesale members to save up to £6.5 million in banking charges in the next year.

The partnership is one of several services that Unitas is exploring to help its wholesale members reduce their costs.

EchoPay enables businesses to take payments using open banking channels, rather than through more costly debit and credit card providers. Typically, transfers using Visa and Mastercard cost a wholesaler 0.8-1.3% of the overall payment.

Analysis by EchoPay discovered that the average transaction in wholesale is £1,800, with £18 the average bank charge. EchoPay charges a small fraction of this.

Out of the Unitas combined member turnover of £8.5 billion, the service is already integrated with businesses that make up £1.3 billion. This will be worth £1 million in savings this year. If the service rolls out across the entire membership, it will generate £6.5 million in savings for Unitas members each year.

EchoPay provides Unitas members with three services to take payments:

• Branded apps where a wholesaler’s customers can pay via their smartphone.

• Credit management dashboards that enable delivered wholesalers to request payments by email or WhatsApp via a branded webpage.

• Handheld ‘Clover’ terminals that wholesalers can use to take face-to-face payments using a QR code.

Payments through EchoPay are faster and more secure than card payments. Money is transferred instantly, and the payer is unable to claim back a payment by cancelling it with their card provider.

Chris Gallacher, managing director of United Wholesale Scotland, said: “As cost pressures continue to rise in the wholesale/convenience channel, it’s becoming extremely difficult to continue to offer great margins that our retailers need. We have been looking at ways to reduce our controllable costs and EchoPay has been one of the biggest successes. It really is a frictionless method to pay. With payments at UWS now over £500,000 a year we can use this saving to keep our prices down for our retailers.”

EchoPay has already integrated with Small Beer Wholesale and ABV Wholesale, which will save £40,000 and £20,000 a year respectively. Wilds of Oldham, R D Johns Foodservice and Venus Wine and Spirits Merchants have signed up in recent weeks.

Stephen Buckley, joint managing director of ABV Wholesale, said: “EchoPay is our default method of collecting payment from our customers. The ease and speed of sending links to customers has improved our efficiency and made it easier for them to pay. I would recommend EchoPay to any wholesaler.”

Wholesalers can encourage their customers to use EchoPay with the company’s new loyalty competition – VIPayer – which is being launched exclusively with Unitas.

Each month, retailers and foodservice businesses could win one of five gift vouchers worth up to £100. In December 2023, one £500 voucher will be up for grabs. Each transaction over £50 that retailers and operators send will count as one entry into the competition.

EchoPay is headed by James Ward who held senior positions at wholesalers including AC Ward & Son and Forward Wholesale.

“As an ex-wholesaler, I understand the cost pressures businesses are under. I am proud to be working with Unitas to help wholesalers radically reduce costs in a challenging market,” he said.

“A growing number of wholesalers are using EchoPay to take payment from their customers, and are benefiting from the lower costs, greater security, and better customer experience we offer.

“EchoPay has a longstanding partnership with Unitas and it made perfect sense for us to launch VIPayer together and give a further incentive for a retailer or caterer to deal with a Unitas Wholesale member.”

Published Date: June 27, 2023
Category: Wholesale Industry News