Managing the “New Normal”: 5 Tips for Wholesalers

UK wholesalers saw their sector turned upside down earlier this year as the coronavirus pandemic swept across Europe.

Wholesalers supplying the hospitality sector suffered in particular, as forced restaurant closures saw orders dry up overnight and warehouses start to back up with excess stock.

Wholesalers have also had to compete with various other offshoots of the pandemic, from social distancing and hygiene measures, to delayed overseas supply chains and constantly evolving consumer demands.

However, it hasn’t all been bad news.  Certain wholesalers have been able to pivot their business models quickly and adapt to the ‘new normal’ brought about by the health crisis. 

In the following article, we will outline 5 ways you can follow their example and future proof your own wholesale business against what’s to come.

  1. Use Data

The pandemic has been hugely unpredictable and seems set to remain so.  As a result, new restrictions and regional lockdowns are being announced across the UK every week.

Managing the “New Normal”: 5 Tips for Wholesalers

Although it is impossible to predict how the next few months will pan out, wholesalers can make use of what they have already learned during the first wave of the virus.

Study the data available to you regarding your customer behaviour this year – and pay particular attention to how it changed during the peak of the pandemic.

Was there more demand for online payment? Was there a particular product that was proving popular? Did consumers request different delivery options or change their ordering behaviour?  Are there any products that were repeatedly requested that you don’t stock – but may be inclined to now?

To make analysing your own company data easier and to further identify hotspots and trends relating to coronavirus in the retail sector, consider using a resource such as Tableau, which converts your data into visual analytics that will assist you in future planning.

2. Collaborate

It has been heartening to witness business competitors put aside their differences during the pandemic and work together to provide extra support.

Managing the “New Normal”: 5 Tips for Wholesalers

These included UK food industry giants Brakes and Bidfood, who collaborated on a government contract to deliver vital food supplies to some of the most vulnerable people in the country during lockdown.

Brakes Scotland also shared the benefits of its logistical expertise with Dundee-based CJ Lang, who needed help handling the deliveries of increased volumes at its Scottish stores.

To return the favour, the Spar wholesaler started using Brakes’ driver and vehicle resources to boost their delivery and logistics capacity.

It’s also vital that wholesalers and their retail clients offer one another mutual support during these uncertain times.

Patience and understanding is required on both sides in order for a profitable working relationship to continue in the future.

3.  Embrace technology

Amongst the wholesalers who dealt best with the first wave of the pandemic back in March were those who quickly incorporated e-commerce platforms into their businesses.

Managing the “New Normal”: 5 Tips for Wholesalers

Adopting digital solutions such as apps, Click and Collect, and online payment ensured their customers were able to continue using their services, even when new restrictions were being enforced on a weekly basis.

Offering a Click and Collect service also meant that consumers concerned about in-person delivery due to hygiene reasons were able to pick-up their orders from depots without leaving their cars.

It’s not just e-commerce solutions that you should be considering, either.  Make sure your website is looking at its best – especially your homepage – and spend some time boosting your profile on social media to make sure you are communicating regularly with both existing and potential customers.

You could also use this time to invest in new, economically viable advertising channels, such as joining a directory like The Wholesaler UK, where your business will be only a mouse click away from searching buyers 24/7.

4. Reward Customer Loyalty

Some wholesalers saw an uptick in their orders during the pandemic, as changing consumer behaviour  increased demand for certain products.

Although new business is always welcome, a proportion of these new clients will be taking advantage of current market trends and will not necessarily convert into long-term buyers.

Managing the “New Normal”: 5 Tips for Wholesalers

As a wholesaler, it’s important to remember that the backbone of your company is often the bricks and mortar businesses –  many of whom are struggling to cope at the moment.

Make sure to check with your regular buyers to see how they are – whether it be with a phone call or a friendly email, 

Also ensure that the channels of communication are always open between you and your dealers, for example by dedicating a particular member of staff to respond to their enquiries. 

Your buyers will be reassured by this personal touch and thankful that they can communicate with your business easily.

Although many wholesalers are enduring their own difficulties with regards to surplus stocks and high overheads, refrain from putting pressure on your clients to place large orders.

Consider instead ways to keep incentivizing your existing clients while also supporting them through a challenging period.  Could you, for example, offer free delivery and faster turn around on smaller orders – allowing your buyer to progress with sales?

Remember, the customers you treat compassionately now will remember it in the future.  

5. Be Flexible

One of the strengths of the wholesale sector is its ability to adapt to change – a trait which has been demonstrated to great effect throughout the course of the pandemic.

Not only have wholesalers adjusted their business models overnight to account for altered consumer behaviour, but many have also built an entirely new customer base in the process.

The foodservice industry devised new ways to deal with surplus stock in its warehouse by opening up its services from B2B to B2C and encouraging the general public to place orders.

Managing the “New Normal”: 5 Tips for Wholesalers

Many also began to sell to large supermarket chains and convenience stores – both of which saw consumer demand skyrocket during the first wave – after orders stopped coming in from the hospitality sector. 

Such innovation prevented perishable products from going to waste and opened up a new revenue stream within the business,

By constantly thinking of new ways to adapt to the crisis – either by amplifying product lines or customer  bases – you will ensure your company is ready to deal with the changing face of the wholesale.sector going forward.

Conclusion

The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 has changed the way that most businesses operate, and wholesale suppliers are no exception.  .

With consumer behaviour changing constantly as a result of the pandemic, it’s important that your business is evolving alongside it..

Consider adopting new technologies such as e-commerce platforms in order to meet the increasing demand for digital solutions, and remember to use the data you have already gathered from this year to predict future trends.

It’s also vital to support others in the sector – whether it be loyal customers or similar businesses – in order to ensure the wholesale sector makes it through the crisis as a united front. 

While we have you here – are you a UK wholesaler looking to connect with new customers?

Here at the Wholesaler UK we have over 20 years experience matching UK wholesalers to trade buyers through our comprehensive online directory. 

Get in touch with us today and find out how advertising with the Wholesaler UK could help market your wholesale business!

 

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