Confex chief Tom Gittins predicts five ways wholesale will change after the pandemic

Tom Gittins is the managing director of Confex

It seems like another universe when wholesaling was simply about who could get the best price and what margin you were willing to make selling it. The last three weeks have changed the way we perceive life, the universe and everything.

Read more: Confex opens wholesaler marketplace to all during coronavirus pandemic

Wholesaling has changed and with a ‘Thanos-esque’ click of the fingers we are all left reminiscing how easy it all used to be pre Covid-19. BC (Before Covid) our options were simply “which markets shall we wholesale in?” and “what products shall we list?” DC (During Covid) we are scrapping to stay alive with the one and only question being “Is there anything left we can wholesale to anyone?” So, as we all struggle to read the crystal ball and decide how we survive and thrive let me offer one view of how the AC (After Covid) world might look:

1. Working from home:
Unfortunately this may not be the last pandemic we see during our lifetime. To this end there may be more restrictions on public life. Combine this with the decreased overheads for businesses to work remotely and the rise of digital, with offices becoming obsolete. On the positive side there is less pollution due to less work travel while stay-cations increase due to the increased risk of being stranded during a lockdown.

2. Wholetailing:
Local Wholesalers become a one-stop shop for food delivery. Specialising in local produce such as fresh fruit and veg, local meat and dairy products, home drops are combined with everyday grocery brands and non-food essentials. Wholetailing catches on as it marries up with the core values of the younger consumer – saving the planet (low food miles) and anti-corporate (local family businesses).

3. Delivery dominates:
During Covid we have found out that Amazon and the multiples cannot deliver everything to your door the next day. As the consumer still wants this, businesses will adapt so that delivery makes up most of their business. Picking warehouses spring up everywhere with many brands coming together to pool resource and offering consumers a viable alternative to the Status Quo.

4. Digital is king:
We remain connected 24/7 with data driving our world. We become more informed than ever before which in turn means that wholesalers will need to add value to justify their existence. Consumers will be more interested in ‘speed, service and corporate responsibility’ over price. Digital is key to business growth and success will be bestowed upon those who continue to embrace new technology and make this a core strategy.

5. Streamlined UK food supply:
The AC world will dovetail with a post-EU UK, in turn leading to a streamlined food supply chain. Fresh food will have less food miles while fruit and veg will become seasonal once again. A high percentage of products will be British and products from abroad will become premium in price and supply. Food producers will control their supply chains and deliver straight to consumer requiring the help of a network of regional distributors, providing a big opportunity for local wholesalers.

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