I can see the massive advertising screen two blocks away from the cash & carry. At the car park entrance, my membership and vehicle details are scanned and verified. No one can enter the site unless their details are recognised. I drive my van over to one of the charging bays for electric vehicles. It is January 2022, and most vans and cars are now electric.
My name is Marwan, and I moved to the UK from Syria in 2017 to make a new life for my family. A growing number of Syrians have settled in the UK, and many are successfully running small stores.
I have seen big changes in the industry over the past five years. Many wholesalers have opened their registration to all types of business, and they stock much wider ranges.
Technology has also changed many things. I started off shopping for stock in person, but now, like many of my peers, I have most of my goods delivered. My inventory system is connected to the wholesaler’s inventory system, so that my store’s ordering is on auto-replenishment. I receive ambient, chilled and frozen deliveries three times a week, and this enables me to focus on serving my customers.
I tend to implement my wholesaler’s display layouts and promotions. I do sometimes shop around, but the core of my operation is through this primary wholesale supplier.
My wholesaler works with me on electronic marketing and advises me on how to increase the frequency of visits. Footfall and transaction values have continually increased since I signed up to its consumer app. It manages all the content and customer communications on my behalf.
Today, I am visiting the cash & carry to attend a business seminar organised for retailers by the wholesaler. I will also collect some stock from the fast stock-pick area. The business centre is very popular with the retailer community, as it is a place to meet, share ideas and catch up with the latest retail trends. They also serve great coffee!
The warehouse trades 24 hours a day and I have chosen my visit time carefully. Prices are lower in the afternoon and through the night to encourage customers to shop at these times. I guess this smooths demand for the wholesaler. It also means that I am not having to trawl through endless lines of traffic.
All the shelf-edge point-of-sale (PoS) material is electronic, so that the wholesaler can change prices in seconds. Special prices, deals and new lines have now loaded onto my mobile device, and I will get alerts as I travel around the warehouse.
I particularly like the vouchers that have downloaded into my electronic wallet – I will certainly be selecting a few of these for purchases.
I have now collected all my goods and pushed my trolley to the checkouts. All the items are scanned at once in the checkout tunnel – it takes a matter of seconds. I have the option to pay by cash or smart pay. I always opt for smart pay these days – I am used to it, as none of the wholesaler’s delivery vehicles take cash.
A van loader helps me to my vehicle and the stock is quickly loaded on. This is the level of service I expect and need from my wholesaler.
Is this scenario fanciful? Maybe it is. But it is a reimagining of how technology could be developed to solve the issues faced by wholesalers today. The key components of the 2022 wholesale depot are likely to be:
• Car park controls to improve security, particularly van theft.
• Membership controls and the elimination of day passes.
• A wider membership base to increase business and to compensate for the loss of customer visits due to the increase in deliveries.
• Business centres to increase retailer knowledge and customer retention.
• More connectivity between wholesaler and retailer, which also promotes retention.
• Practical deployment of electronic marketing methods for both wholesaler and retailer.
• The smoothing of traffic demand using pricing mechanisms.
• More effective profit management through electronic PoS.
• Super-fast checkout services.
• Efficient, low risk methods of payment.