Paul Hill speaks to Marcus Vallance, head of wholesale & foodservice at SalesOut
PH: What service does SalesOut offer wholesalers?
MV: SalesOut is an IRI company that offers a range of services to enable wholesalers to improve their businesses through data and insights.
Using its analytics capabilities, its technology and platform Unify, and in-depth reporting, SalesOut is able to create better joint business planning between suppliers and wholesalers.
Through enhanced visibility, suppliers are empowered to engage better with the right customer types, in the right stores, with the right products and at the right price, thanks to usable, accessible data.
SalesOut’s custom models then make increasingly accurate predictions on what the future looks like. The company ultimately ensures suppliers can trade more efficiently and effectively through wholesalers.
What work has SalesOut done with the industry recently?
SalesOut has been working on a price and promotion review called an ‘assortment optimisation review’. It’s needed because one of the big challenges in wholesale is trying to be a retailer without actually owning the stores. How do you get that share of investment in a brand when you don’t own the stores? You can buy much better, but you need to sell better as well.
An assortment optimisation review enables the wholesaler to do both. If they implement the actions and/or the predictions turn out to be correct, the value return can be huge.
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What new technology should wholesalers be taking advantage of?
Innovations in product and item registration is definitely one. If you’re a buying group, registration is vital because you’ve got multiple data sources coming in from various wholesalers, and you want everyone to have the same data. Bad data will always give bad results.
Another is a new development in forecasting. Because wholesale is becoming more and more about supply-chain efficiency, forecasting has never been more important. The businesses that succeed in the future will be those that have visibility right through from the wholesaler to the consumer, and that will be enabled by through-the-line forecasting.
Is the wholesale industry doing enough with data and research?
We’re quite good at looking backwards and at what’s happened in the supply chain, but I don’t think we’re brilliant at sharing good-quality data on sales going out.
We need to be more visible, using data and insights better to work with partners. Retailers are sophisticated buyers because they collect and analyse huge volumes of customer data; wholesalers don’t have that luxury.
Wholesalers would make more informed decisions if they gained a better understanding into what drives retailer motives, so the industry needs to bring the barriers down.
What is the greatest challenge the wholesale industry faces from a technological perspective?
The greatest future challenge for wholesalers is the same as it is for retailers and that’s losing human connections as a result of digitisation.
We now have contactless shopping, cashier-less tills, and e-commerce is going to continue to grow.
Everything is becoming increasingly faceless, and one of the challenges is how to keep personality and relationships within a store environment in which technology will become ever more prevalent.
Whether it’s retailer to consumer, or retailer to wholesaler, losing that one-to-one service element will come at a huge cost. Those human interactions are more important than we think.