The rapid growth of online and technology over the last 12 months has been a monumental change for how we as a society purchase goods now and in the future. In the UK, online retail growth hit a thirteen year high, up 36% (Retail Gazette, 2020), which has encouraged Retailers, Retail Wholesalers, Foodservice Wholesalers and Suppliers to re-evaluate their methods to accommodate the shift in focus to digital channels for selling, delivery and distribution. But why has digitalisation become one of the biggest growth areas in Wholesale, and what are the benefits?
Overnight, wholesalers had to either establish themselves online for the first time, or grow and hone their online offering and capabilities to meet their changing customer requirements, with some retail and foodservice wholesalers also shifting to create Business to Consumer offerings. Whilst the last year has created a great deal of challenges for the industry, it should also be noted that it has led to innovation in the digital online space to create or improve virtual stores for wholesale customers. The challenge for wholesalers now, is how to differentiate these digital spaces to provide more value, information and data to their customers than ever before to support their purchasing decisions.
So how can wholesalers compete online and use this space to provide differentiation for their shoppers?
We have seen a number of leading Wholesalers investing in their online capabilities to offer their customers improved product content, enabling them to make more informed decisions when buying for their business and their shoppers. In an industry where customer loyalty is low across the majority of product categories, competing on content quality, availability, granularity, relevance and specificity has never been more important. Investing in expanding your online presence is an important step to take now to be prepared for the future as the habits of wholesale customers continue to evolve post-pandemic. Customer purchasing behaviours have evolved to actively research products and compare their options before purchasing, and it is crucial that wholesalers present ways in which their customers can do this online, with ease. Providing an easy to search, filter and click to purchase journey within online ecommerce platforms for direct delivered and click and collect is vital for navigating your wholesale business through this period and into the future.
We have seen that retail and foodservice wholesale customers have come to expect the same online experience when purchasing for their business that they have when shopping for their own home and family. Resultantly, the availability and volume of content online has become ever more important, as wholesale customers browse online for products, pricing, product recommendations and alternatives. This means that wholesalers can be bold, and rather than traditionally categorising their product assortment by fresh, chilled or frozen, the granularity of data available today means that your filters and search capabilities can be enhanced by lifestyle, allergen, packaging type, recyclability and many more, as well as used to enhance SEO capabilities on search engines and ecommerce websites. Imagery can be specific, with optimised imagery deployed for mobile and tablet configured websites and apps.
The product detail page can now also be transformed with the level of content available in the industry today. By progressing beyond the standard requirement of product images, ingredients and allergens, to include enhanced content such as product tours, feature sets, serving suggestions, video and more, you can start your journey to empowering your customers, and persuading them to make more informed purchasing decisions. Enabling wholesalers to provide more value to their customers is a crucial element for success as the shopper purchasing habits evolve further.
Do you want to learn more about how you can improve your online capabilities? Join our webinar “Wholesale: Optimising your Online Sales Channel” on Wednesday 28th April 2021 at 2pm, you can sign up here.
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