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April 3 2023

Wholesale Online Report 2023: Lumina Intelligence’s Blonnie Whist Q&A

Blog Details

Insight Director picks out the main talking points from this year’s annual sector report

How is online behaviour changing in response to the wider wholesale landscape?

The cost pressures that we’re seeing are forcing different types of retailers and operators into more price-checking behaviour and we’re seeing a lot more wholesaler promiscuity. What that means is it’s pushing different kinds of operators into the online channel, which shows how important eCommerce really is.

We’re seeing online-order frequency increasing too, which highlights the opportunity for people who are investing in this channel, the suppliers and people advertising in this space. There’s a huge opportunity to communicate with and reach these people as they’re entering this more measurable, easier-to-adapt-to, more-personalisable platform.

What’s driving this behaviour of more frequent ordering alongside a decline in basket spend?

It’s linked to the shopper missions. We’re seeing more of this main shop that’s commanding a higher share of retailer shopping missions and that’s down to cost pressures forcing them to be highly organised, highly measured and strict with their behaviours. 

It’s really positive that we’re seeing more of a shift towards smaller baskets, which are more frequent and less high-value spends. It signals people engaging with the channel more frequently and it means more time spent with eyes on your ads and investment.

What are the other big takeaways from the report that people should be aware of?

One of the biggest things we found doing this report is how important it is to really disrupt a customer journey, and we’ve created a whole section in the report on doing that. The aim is to get someone who is engaging in this routine price-checking behaviour, stop them in their tracks and make them say ‘wow, this is something I need to do differently’ or do it when they’re not even conscious of it.

If you’re a supplier looking to the wholesale channel, one of the most important things we saw was to have a different device-specific strategy. We found very different engagement styles and conversion rates depending on the device a customer is using, whether they are a retailer or a foodservice operator. A retailer is more likely to be sat at a desktop, whereas foodservice operators are a lot more agile and are maybe using tablets or mobiles – and within that is a whole new way to engage with them and a different way to succeed.

Success online clearly isn’t one-size fits all…

It comes down to all the different facets of eCommerce behaviour, such as how you mobilise banner ads and push notifications. It changes massively depending on the customer and they’re all really important for informing and disrupting that journey. We’ve found that suppliers here have a really good opportunity to work with wholesalers to design different push notifications that are highlighting new products and promotions.

It’s important to make sure you’re doing it at the right time as well. We found that media activations needed to be optimised to reach retailers at peak times of the day, for example, during the morning for retail, whereas foodservice is more around 10-11pm.

What is the answer to helping wholesalers and suppliers negotiate these behaviours?

One of the key developments we picked out this year is how to win with WhatsApp Business API technology – it’s all about boosting efficiency, cutting costs, personalising messages and increasing engagement because it’s going to be a platform that retailers are familiar with using and being reached on. It’s great for digital advertising and also cuts costs by distributing digital brochures instead of print.

The function that’s really exciting for me is the one-tap ordering linked to digital ads through WhatsApp because that’s all about boosting baskets at key times.

The report identifies ‘open eCommerce sites’ as a big trend for 2023. What’s this about?

Currently, most wholesalers’ eCommerce sites are gated and can only be viewed by customers who are logged in. While that ensures all visitors are customers, it also stops eCommerce websites from ranking on Google and in a world when customers are price-checking more, it’s a missed opportunity.

For example, something that’s always been done better on consumer-facing eCommerce platforms compared to B2B is around NPD. We found previously that suppliers weren’t placing enough emphasis on communicating NPD, therefore as a result, people engaging with new products was quite low compared to different kinds of platforms.

Our research found that about 20% of foodservice operators and retailers chose wholesaler websites to find out about new products, so they’re using them as a really key platform to get that information. Therefore by opening up websites, wholesalers can be helped by suppliers to unlock the potential of attracting new customers.

To buy the Wholesale Online Report 2023 or to get more information on it, visit the Lumina Intelligence website.