April figures show all-time record for ecommerce activity in wholesale

The coronavirus pandemic has instigated the biggest uptake in ecommerce activity ever recorded in wholesale, according to figures released by RNF.

On March 16, the UK government advised the public to stay away from a a large number of foodservice outlets, leading to a massive increase in ecommerce use from consumers in the UK grocery sector.

Read more: RNF offering free app to wholesalers

Rob Mannion, founder and chief executive of RNF explained that during March and April he has witnessed two very different stories unfold: “On the one hand, wholesalers whose principle category is grocery were hit with unprecedented demand as panic buying ensued; while for those serving the hospitality sector or schools, their customer base disappeared overnight, leaving many to pivot to B2C models or adopt the government’s furlough scheme as means of survival.

“Due to the unprecedented nature of the pandemic, we have no way of accurately predicting what is around the corner but our latest data suggests that the surge to online, in wholesale at least, might not be disappearing as quickly as it rose,” he added.

While ecommerce sales have declined slightly from the levels experienced in March, the total number of orders processed through RNF’s wholesale apps between February and April saw a 26% increase, along with a 19% increase in basket size.

The company also noted the eight biggest grocery online days ever during March and April, all of which topped the previous highest seen in the run up to Christmas 2019, while average order values increased from £1085 to £1288 and active wholesale app users rose to 18,500.

Read more: Opinion: Wholesalers should be taking advantage of digital during these times

David Gilroy, managing director of Store Excel, added: “We are clearly operating in a new world of doing business and in this new world there are big potential wins for both wholesalers and suppliers. Wholesalers absolutely must have an effective app and online capability to optimise their selling channels.”

“Digital ordering has been growing steadily over the last few years but the Covid-19 crisis has accelerated that in a way we could never have imagined,” concluded Mannion. “Whilst some of that increase was due to panic-buying which has now eased, it would appear the move to digital is here to stay. We have live data from all our apps at our fingertips meaning we can see more quickly than ever the impact of events such as this pandemic. If anyone would like to learn more, then please just get in touch.”

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Paul Hill
Paul Hill is the Editor of Better Wholesaling. Paul can be found on Twitter on @BW_PaulHill, or can be contacted via paul.hill@newtrade.co.uk and 020 7689 3376.

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