Article

The Consumerisation of Wholesale Commerce

By Manhattan Staff,
The Consumerisation of Wholesale Commerce

Wholesale customer expectations are changing, driven by technological advances and faster, more flexible delivery services.  Loyalty that once existed amongst customers and their wholesalers isn’t the same anymore. 

Different wants and needs

Let’s look at Harry.  He is a self-employed plumber, hard-working and has his trusty wholesaler’s catalogue at home.  This is what he used to refer to after a day’s work, flicking through the pages to find the part he needed, ready to order the following day and his customer would just have to wait until it came in, allowing Harry to get started on another job in between.

Whereas now, Harry gets to the job, identifies the problem, pulls out his smartphone, places an order on the wholesaler’s website or mobile app and jumps in the van with the expectation of picking it up there and then. 

This is now placing a big demand on his preferred wholesaler to have the part ready to collect when it is most convenient for him, as they know he could find the item elsewhere within minutes that might have it available for him quicker should he need it.

All your customers are Harry now

There are plenty of other people in Harry’s situation: service engineers, decorators, restaurant owners, office managers or farmers.

In their personal lives they are enjoying the extra choice, speed and more engaging ways to shop.  Click and collect, next day delivery, named day delivery and the ability to check inventory in other stores.

As a result, they are pushing their wholesalers, who traditionally haven’t been able to offer these options, to offer them this service for when they are at work as well.  Not forgetting Harry’s customers are pushing him harder to get jobs done quicker and cheaper.

Keeping up with the customer

Wholesalers can find it more difficult than traditional retailers to keep up with the rate of which their customers are taking on new technologies.

However, to grow, compete and win customer loyalty wholesalers are having to evolve to allow them to do business with their customers on their terms and at their pace. 

The relationship between tradespeople and suppliers has changed, the digital world means this relationship places premium on time and convenience.  It is what we call the consumerisation of wholesale, where the power has shifted from wholesaler to the customer. 

Digital continues to rewrite the rules.  Competitors can be down the street or on the other side of the world.  Agile start-ups can spring up out of nowhere and win over customers in an instant.  Wholesalers need to move with their customers or face getting left behind.