Priyanka Jethwa finds out the wholesale needs of Gaurave Sood, owner of Neelam, an independent convenience store in London.
Which wholesalers do you use and why do you use them?
We have always used Bestway for the main bulk of our shopping, but after Dhamecha opened in Hayes, we started to buy from them because their prices were a lot cheaper. However, when Dhamecha grew in popularity because of the low prices, its availability lessened and Bestway took advantage by stepping up to match prices and offer better promotions, so now we stick to Bestway.
Do you get your orders by visiting the cash & carry or by having them delivered?
We do both – it depends how much time I have to go to the depot, and how busy the store is. Bestway released an app where you can scan products by barcode and order them to be collected or delivered to you – I find this service really helpful.
How can wholesalers improve their online ordering?
By following Bestway’s example. They have invested a lot of money into their buying site and app. You can go into it and upload barcodes straight from your phone. It makes you want to shop with them because everything is simplified.
How can wholesalers improve the cash & carry experience?
Speed of service and availability is a big thing for me. There is no point in having cheap prices when the stock is always unavailable, or if it takes me 40 minutes to pay for my items. Also, Booker have started to prioritise foodservice over retail, with retail products high up and catering foods at eye level – this is something they need to address because it makes me not want to shop there.
What in-depot activity is likely to capture your attention and get you to purchase promotional items?
Sampling draws my attention to lines I wouldn’t otherwise pick up, alongside more emphasis on new products from big suppliers. If they give away a free box here and there, the chances are, if it sells well, I’ll come and buy it again.
What categories would you like to see wholesalers improve in?
The variety and availability of chilled ranges. Booker are the only ones doing well in this area, with Discover the Choice and Farm Fresh. That is all you see in their symbol stores and they’re all price-marked, or are on promotion.
How would you rate the wholesale sector when it comes to responding to trends?
Very slow. If you aren’t part of a symbol group, you don’t always get access to new products. This is annoying when there are TV adverts for new products and customers ask you for them, but you can’t find them in wholesale.
What food trends do you predict will grow this year?
Food to go, healthier foods, free-from and veganism. Just take a look at the popularity of Greggs’ Vegan Sausage Roll. Wholesalers should look into dedicating a small space to vegan and free-from lines.