BW: How has iTrade worked with wholesalers to help grow their sales?
Alex Walters: Helping wholesalers push the boundaries of what is possible from selling online has been a huge focus for iTradeNetwork during the past 18 months. Our e-commerce Storefront product has been created specifically to provide wholesalers, distributors and suppliers of food and beverages with a shopfront website that helps them sell more and in a more efficient way.
What have been the company’s main achievements that directly benefit wholesalers?
AW: We have worked closely with wholesalers in the food and beverage sector to develop an e-commerce product that delivers real results, with functionality that goes far beyond an off-the-shelf solution. Customers including Cuisine de France and Matthew Clark have told us that by selling online using the Storefront, they are not only able to acquire new customers but also increase spend from their current ones; on average, wholesalers using a Storefront see a 7% increase in the value of orders.
BW: What major challenges have you faced as a business?
AW: Overcoming the misconception of wholesalers that selling online is something for them to worry about in the future or that only larger businesses can afford to do it properly. As the retail market has shown in recent years, those that left going online too late are often left behind. Trade customers are eager for the simplicity and convenience that online purchasing gives them; recent research conducted with hospitality operators showed that 64% of them agreed that they would definitely consider using online if their wholesalers or suppliers offered it.
BW: How do you plan to develop your portfolio or service to wholesalers in the next six months?
AW: The Storefront product is continually being developed and refined and we have just rolled out the latest version, which provides state-of-the-art design and functionality that customers including Molson Coors are already benefiting from. One of the main upgrades is to the promotional engine, which includes a range of selling tools that can help wholesalers to sell more.
BW: What are the most influential trends in the market?
AW: The rapid rise in the number of consumers shopping online has begun to influence the business world, with people who shop online in their home lives now expecting the same level of convenience and functionality when purchasing in their business lives.
Trade customers, especially those in the hospitality sector, don’t always work office hours and want to order at a time that suits them. For example, over 70% of Matthew Clark’s online orders are placed outside office hours and data from across our network shows that there has also been a significant increase in the number of orders placed on mobile devices.
BW: What advice do you have for wholesalers looking to grow sales or improve business management?
AW: Embrace change and always look for new and better ways of doing things. Online selling with a high quality bespoke website provides wholesalers with an additional channel to market that can not only help them acquire new customers but also help them generate more from existing ones.