Can buying groups get your business online?

Last month, Booker announced its financial results, which stated that online sales grew 10% compared with 11% the previous year. Chief executive Charles Wilson said that he expects the figure to increase as the business expands its delivered capabilities. 

We also spoke with Musgrave MD Noel Keeley, who said that the company’s online sales are growing 10% year on year. Noel said he can’t imagine customers pushing trollies around a cash & carry in years to come. Whatever the future holds for wholesale, one thing is clear: customers want options. Many of the wholesalers we work with are responding by offering an online ordering service and many cash & carries are starting to deliver.  

But online ordering can be seen as a big commitment and wholesalers at our Summer Roundtable said that cost was a barrier to entry. Could buying groups provide a ‘digital gateway’ that puts wholesalers online as part of their membership package? Today’s Group chairman Mark Windebank said this would give some wholesalers access to technology otherwise out of their reach. 

JJ Food Service has already launched a platform that puts its foodservice customers online. Unlike Just Eat, the tool gives operators data visibility, which is an exciting prospect for suppliers, too. Is this something more wholesalers could be doing?

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