Competing with the Changing Face of Food Retail

Wholesale takes various forms, with its models catering to different types of businesses and industries. In some cases, wholesalers act as traders, moving goods from manufacturers to retailers, using the advantage of economies of scale, mass transportation and import/export power.

In other cases, wholesalers act as merchants, primarily processing orders and sorting transport, and not really handling goods directly. Others offer the function of warehouses and storage facilities, keeping products by manufacturers in their possession before sending them off to various retailers.

Depending on the type of model a business adopts, the challenges that emerge also vary. One of the greatest threats to the future of wholesale is the way retail has transformed.

The New Face of Retail and Supermarkets

Traditionally, manufacturers and producers get their products to the market through wholesalers and distributors who would package, label and transport to retailers across the region.

This has allowed wholesalers to push their products to different stores and sellers; however, people are often overwhelmed with the choices that are made available to them—this, again, provides retail businesses like the famous Aldi and Lidl an opportunity to combat choice paralysis.

However, with the emergence of supermarkets and superstores, the roles of the wholesaler and distributor began to diminish, being threatened by the expansive and rapidly growing competition. Mergers between retailers and wholesalers mean there’s even less room for wholesalers to operate independently, being acquired or hired to supply goods to particular clients.

Furthermore, the presence of e- and m-commerce platforms has meant that people shop online and through their mobile phones, finding it a lot easier than visiting a brick and mortar store.

Anything consumers need is a few clicks away—often at discounted prices and directly available from the label. The presence of online and virtual exchanges and transactions shook the role of both the retailer and the wholesaler.

How?

Well, the wholesaler became irrelevant to the retailer, because now they could purchase directly from the manufacturer; however, the issue of packaging, transporting, order processing and management still stand. So, wholesalers with a well-built system and network in place are still at an advantage. Retailers can’t compete with them, because it’s a different model altogether.

Instead, retailers increasingly find themselves embodying the wholesaler when dealing with their clients. That is to say, their retail outlets are becoming less and less necessary and their role as a tertiary seller is weakening. Consumers looking for more cost-effective options can log on to a website, place an order for a product they’re in need of and proceed to purchase it without the hassle of a middle-man.

Consumers are less focused on brands and labels, being satisfied with high-quality products sold at affordable prices. It’s a time of economic struggle the world over and smart shopping is what people prefer. National brands though recognisable, are not irreplaceable, especially given the possibility of alternatives sold for better, more affordable rates.

This means wholesalers supplying specific, private brands and products under that label can maintain their stronghold, and expand even further. It’s about intelligent decision-making, partnerships and acquisitions.

As a wholesaler, your clientele is a lot more specialised than retailers, which allows for greater focus on the expansion of existing products and service procedures that are essential to success.

What does all this mean for wholesalers and how can they keep up?

Of course, there is a sense of insecurity that retailers and wholesalers alike are experiencing. Not just them, but distributors and manufacturers also have to deal with challenges that are entirely unique.

How do small businesses, such as food supplier services, stay afloat when faced with rapidly advancing technological, social and market structures?

Australian policymakers, governments, researchers have been observing the quality and range of products available.

In truth, adaptability and improvement of overall service delivery can go a very long way when it comes to competing. The tide is shifting and businesses need to go with:

1. Streamlining your retail customers

One of the biggest steps you can take to improving your services is to streamline your retail customers. Through the use of an order management system (OMS) software such as OrderTron, you’ll have greater freedom to put your retail customers in a single place, which allows you to manage them and all incoming orders more efficiently.

Investing in the right technology and software to help move your business forward is necessary, as opposed to being a luxury. With competition increasing and getting tougher, you’re going to need stronger armour and artillery than relying on traditional, archaic modus operandi.

2. Efficient order management and processing

A lot of businesses wholesale and otherwise, struggle to retain their clients due to mismanagement, inefficient service delivery, mistakes and errors in the order management process.

Again, the use of a comprehensive OMS can eradicate errors and mistakes, allowing you to enter data into a system that handles the details for you. It’s as simple as your clients logging on and placing an order for products they require, when they need the order by and in what quantity.

OrderTron is designed to make order taking, processing and management a straightforward process for B2B clients and suppliers, while reducing data entry and saving time. It also allows your clients to view updates on their order, including tracking and shipment details.

As a wholesaler, you’ll be able to receive live updates on your own products and stocks, allowing for better communication with manufacturers and distributors. Your role in the entire supply chain is consolidated as a result of this efficiency, as retailers and distributors alike realise that your ability to purchase and transport in bulk saves them the stress of micro-transactions and logistical issues.

3. Incentivising retailers through special pricing

What reason would another business have to give you their money, when they’re able to purchase from a distributor or the manufacturer, or switch labels altogether? Your ability to bargain, incentivise and offer special pricing and rates to them, dedication to customer service and satisfaction is what makes all the difference in the world.

Through the use of OrderTron, you have the ability to offer special discounts and rates to specific customers without changing the rate for everyone. This gives you an edge when working with a specific client; let’s say a local convenience store that stocks your private label of sugar, whereas you don’t want to offer a discount on the label that you sell to larger grocery stores.

Remember that the focus needs to be on retaining clients and selling your products, not just making a profit.

4. Find a niche to focus on

Dozens of competitors in the market exist for all major businesses. Whether you’re an established name or an emerging small business, you’re going to be met with multiple others competing for market share.

It won’t be an easy market to break into, but catering to a niche makes a major difference. If you’re struggling to carve out a pathway for yourself, perhaps take inspiration from this blog.

A niche is something that offers you a competitive edge like nothing else, consolidating your importance as an individual business, even if there is insecurity in the industry. A niche can be for your product or even the role you take on as a wholesaler—don’t be afraid to explore and take on challenges. That’s where your business begins to lose.

5. Develop a virtual presence and communicate more effectively

Didn’t think marketing or having a presence for your wholesale business was necessary? Think again.

If you’re still under the impression that your business can sustain itself without engaging with clients and reaching out to them, you’ve been living under a rock. This is quite damaging, actually, given that you’re missing a large chunk of the market share simply as a result of being absent.

Devise and apply a comprehensive marketing strategy tailored to your wholesale business, updating clients on important changes, new pricing and other relevant information about your business and their orders. Don’t let poor communication cost your business.

Even if you’re not setting up specific m-commerce and e-commerce stores, use technology that’s already made available to you. OrderTron has mobile versions with inbuilt a messaging platform, allowing you to reach out to clients with ease.

Your clients will also be able to place orders on the go, having clear access to your catalogue, knowing details about your stocks and delivery time, rates, etc.

6. Offer flexible B2B solutions to retail clients

As a B2B service provider, it’s important to understand the needs of your clients and offer them solutions that align with their needs. For instance, if as a food wholesaler, you have access to products in bulk and storage space, offer your retail clients such as restaurants smaller order quantities or access to your storage. Find something that works for you and your client, knowing that as a wholesaler, you have economies of scale and many more advantages that retailers depend on.

There are a lot of ways you can retain your role in whichever industry you operate. Embrace change and growth as they come your way, remaining flexible and making the right investments such as OMS. To know more about OrderTron, visit their website.

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