How to Make Your Wholesale Business Digital

There’s no denying that we live in a digital age.  Statistics show that 59% of the globe are active internet users, which amounts to over 4.57 billion people according to data collected by Statista in April 2020.

If you’re an established wholesale supplier who’s been in the business for a while, you may be asking what this information has to do with you.

After all – there are still a lot of wholesale suppliers who like to keep it old school when it comes to running their company. 

If you have a phone line and a warehouse, what more do you need?

But, with an increasing number of wholesale suppliers now incorporating e-commerce platforms into their business model, those not on board with the digital risk are being left behind.

Far from a temporary fad, it seems the shift to e-commerce could be here to stay, especially following the unprecedented events of 2020.

A report conducted by Alvarez & Marsal and Retail Economics has shown that almost a quarter of UK consumers – a total of 17.2 million people – intend to continue shopping online after the coronavirus pandemic has ended.

So if you can’t beat them, how do you go about joining them?

Read on to find out why you can’t afford to make your wholesale business digital, plus some simple steps to take to up your e-commerce game!

E Commerce Shopping

Why You Should Make Your Wholesale Business Digital

The coronavirus pandemic had devastating effects on a broad range of industries, including the wholesale sector.

With the hospitality industry being forced to close to curb the spread of the virus, many food and drink wholesalers found that their customer base disappeared overnight.

Add to that a change in customer behaviour which meant that people felt less comfortable visiting warehouses and making personal collections and the knock-on effect of the health crisis becomes all too clear.

However – there were some UK wholesalers who rose quickly to the challenge and adapted to the changing times.

How did they do this? By incorporating e-commerce platforms into their business model.

Richard Fletcher, founder of Food Service Online explained in an interview with Wholesale News that the wholesale suppliers who coped best with the crisis were those “with experience working with more modern and agile technologies”

“They were able to react quickly and, essentially, create businesses overnight with click and collect and taking payments. Before this, only a handful of people in the UK were doing

something as obvious as taking online payments.”

As Fletcher goes on to point out, it’s important that wholesalers accept that lockdown could happen again and start implementing changes now.

 An efficient online system will be vital to the future of wholesale – pandemic or no pandemic- and means that valuable business is not lost due to a gap in technology.

How you can make your wholesale supply business digital

There are many ways you can ensure your wholesale business is future-proofed by going digital. 

By incorporating all – or even just a few – of these methods, you will ensure your wholesale supply business is modernised and ready for the digital world.

Digital solutions for your wholesale suppliers include:


By using an app as a digital platform you will ensure customers have access to all aspects of your wholesale business in one place.  

Evidence shows that consumers also prefer the app experience, with some research suggesting that in-app orders are, on average, 18% higher than on the web.

If you fancy incorporating apps into your wholesale business model, RNF Digital are offering a free, fully customisable app to UK food and drink wholesalers which facilitates the entire B2B ordering process online at the touch of a button. 

The app provides complete ordering capabilities, such as unlimited lines, unlimited orders and unlimited order categories to get wholesalers up and running.

Wholesalers can also choose to opt-in to access certain premium features, such as in-app payment, in-app advertising and barcode scanning.

Online payment and Automated Solutions

More people than ever are now embracing the ease of online purchasing after the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 saw some in-person shopping rendered all but impossible.

The figures speak for themselves when it comes to online payment: according to RNF digital, 98% of delivered retailers are now placing orders online, with only 2% using the phone.

Despite this, a significant number of UK wholesalers still don’t offer online payment options on their websites.

With an increasing number of customers now expecting this service, wholesale suppliers could risk losing valuable business if they fail to provide it.

Companies such as Go Cardless and Stripe offer online payment platforms which enable customers to pay with credit cards or via monthly direct debit, meaning you’re also spared the hassle of having to chase up overdue invoices. 

Click and Collect

Click and Collect proved an excellent option for many UK wholesalers during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic as customers became increasingly uncomfortable visiting public places, including depots.

Click and Collect offered a simple solution to this problem by allowing customers to place their order online, choose a delivery slot and pick-up products themselves, often without having to leave the safety of their own car.

Click and Collect also allowed wholesalers to branch out from B2B to B2C services – a necessary step for food and drink wholesalers in particular who saw up to 90% of their business disappear overnight with the closing of the UK hospitality sector.

By offering a B2B service – where end consumers can buy directly from the wholesaler via a Click & Collect service – wholesale suppliers ensure they are not left with surplus stock and open up a potentially profitable new revenue stream should lockdown happen again.

To find out more about the benefits of click and collect, check out this blog post.

Website Optimisation

Înternet users are growing increasingly savvy, and expect to be able to find what they are looking for within seconds of landing on a company’s homepage, especially as time is a precious commodity in the modern world.

The coronavirus pandemic has seen many retailers dealing with an uptick in business – especially those running small, independent convenience stores – which means they are increasingly time restricted when it comes to sourcing stock and placing orders.

In order to make their online process as efficient as possible, it is worth spending some time checking over your website to ensure the user journey is a fluid one.

Firstly make sure your search terms and product tags are getting your best-selling items found by Google searches.

You want your wholesale suppliers to appear on the first page of results in a Google search – ideally within the first five listings.

Secondly – remember that your homepage is your shop window.  Make sure product photos are high resolution and that information relevant to retailers – such as POR and popular brands – is displayed clearly.

Contactless Payment Options

Wholesale eCommerce providers such as RNF saw a dramatic increase in the demand for contactless payments as the pandemic increased people’s desire to avoid unnecessary contact.

Although primarily provoked by hygiene concerns, payments of this type also make the customer journey quicker and more convenient which suggests they will be here to stay.

By incorporating these payment options into your current business models, wholesalers will ensure they are prepared for an increasingly digital future.


The onward march of technology may feel overwhelming at times, but if you don’t consider incorporating e-commerce platforms into your wholesale business you could risk losing valuable customers.

And although wholesalers are often working on tight margins, investing in digital improvements is a cost that you can’t afford to avoid

By embracing digital enhancements such as apps, online payment methods and Click and Collect services you stand a much better chance of ensuring your wholesale business’s success in the future.

.There is help at hand if you’re looking for advice on how to start future-proofing your wholesale suppliers.

Businesses such as RNF Digital and Foodservice online are offering a range of free solutions to help wholesalers get started on their digital journey, whereas data providers such as SalesOut are available to provide valuable statistical insights.

These figures, in turn,  will help wholesalers identify which areas to target with their eCommerce strategy.

So don’t delay, start making your wholesale business digital today!

While you’re here, we’d like to tell you a bit about us.

The Wholesaler UK is an online directory for retailers who are looking for the stock to resell. You will find hundreds of suppliers listed within the categories.

We only link to genuine wholesale suppliers who hold stock in the UK, supply in quantities suitable for independent retailers and have supplied us with verifiable contact details.

If you are looking to buy wholesale, you can use this site entirely free of charge.  Happy browsing!

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