We attended the Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD) FASTFWD Conference to find out if the wholesale sector is ready for change. There were some key discussions about the disruptors affecting the sector. Issues such as Brexit, retail consolidation and technology continue to have an impact. All of which mean wholesalers need to change how they do business, and fast.
The FWD commissioned a survey to find out how businesses in the sector view these disruptors. The results showed that there is a significant disparity between what the wholesalers view as key issues, and what the analyst thinks they are
What we discovered was businesses understand these disruptors, but they still underestimate their future impact. For example, Amazon and technology were both assessed as a high impact by the FWD, but not recognised as essential by the industry.
However, technology and developing threats from major online players such as Amazon are putting pressure on wholesalers, as well as their retail customer base. If a business fails to adapt and provide customers with value-added online services they could fall into grave trouble.
But wholesalers aren’t alone. There is a lot to learn from the B2C sector. Retailers have spent the last 15 years perfecting their online presence. It’s now essential for wholesalers to provide customers with a similar retail experience online. The key to making it a success is an easy-to-navigate website, product categorisation and search facilities. All of which retail websites have in common.
Another key issue brought up was how wholesalers can help their convenience retail customers. Again online ordering is key here. One example would be wholesalers providing a franchise ecommerce platform to their retail community. This can support any click and collect or endless aisle services for consumers. But for this to work it’s essential to have a high quality focused platform with multi-brand support.
So is the wholesale sector ready for change? We would say yes it is. The tools and technology are here and ready to help businesses adapt and overcome the key disruptors. More businesses just need to embrace them.