After realising just how significantly online sales in the wholesale channel outperform those in the online grocery channel, Red Bull has resolved to help wholesale businesses get in shape to complete the task at hand. Martyn Fisher joined the soft drinks giant for a visit to a leading Unitas Wholesale member to witness first-hand what steps need to be taken to become the perfect online wholesaler.
The current version of Dee Bee’s transactional website began life in 2016. About 350 core retail customers actively use the site to purchase their orders. “We do not have much resource or a big IT team,” Morrison says. “A lot of what we have done has been trial and error.”
Red Bull is eager to help wholesalers be less reliant on this approach. Tregear says: “We tend to find big lists of products on wholesalers’ websites. And often, the order of appearance has not been considered. The challenge then is how to help users navigate this. Our advice is to place bestsellers at the top of the page and then use filters to help operators find more specific products.
“You must consider the ways shoppers find things, too. What are the relevant search terms for each category? And have you left margin for typos?”
Tregear was impressed that Dee Bee’s website has a visual menu: this reflects the in-depot environment, where people mostly shop by shape and colour.
Red Bull sees many websites that randomly generate options from the search function, or just list them in alphabetical order. Tregear notes: “Bear in mind people want to shop on the first page, and want confidence that the items they want are there. You must offer this by displaying bestsellers first.”
Red Bull has worked with wholesalers who have enjoyed success on their websites with branded filters. In a category as brand-driven as soft drinks, this is highly advisable, Tregear says.
On many wholesalers’ websites, if you search for ‘Red Bull’ without a space between the words, no results show. Dee Bee’s website, though, finds the range.
The business has worked carefully in this area. It logs all failed searches, and uses the data to improve the search function. ‘Weather’ is a frequent failed-search term – ‘Werther’s’ tends to be the desired search, with many smartphones autocorrecting the confectionery item.
However, Dee Bee’s website turns up different results for typing in ‘energy drink’, where most items in the category appear, but the list starts with Carabao, which is not a bestseller, and ‘energy drinks’, which only generates one result. Dee Bee believed that its website depluralised search terms – but it had not worked in this case.
Tregear adds: “The problem with ‘search’ is that there are endless possibilities. Is your ‘energy drink’ search delivering what people want? Be sure to use suppliers as the extra function when it comes to the intricacies of granular website searches.”
You also need to consider if your website offers the right information to convert the sale. For example, in depot, shoppers can touch and feel the product, and ask staff questions. Therefore, it is vital all products on your ecommerce site have names and images that help shoppers understand what they are buying. If you display the profit on return in-depot, display this online, too.
“For Red Bull, one of our biggest wins has been improving the way we present our product – and using good imagery has improved our online sales by as much as 26%,” Tregear says. “That translates to more than just energy drinks, too, and can be implemented to any category to improve a customers’ user journey and leading to more sales.”
Dee Bee uses Nielsen Brandbank images for the products on its website – but as Tregear points out, you need to regularly check Nielsen Brandbank to ensure that the images you are using are the most up-to-date ones.
Availability needs to underpin all of the above. “An online shopper expects at least as good a range online as in-store – typically, they expect even more,” Tregear says. “So, there must not be any products accessed in-depot that cannot be bought online. In fact, the web could be the place to try range extensions, especially if depot space is stretched.”
Contact your local Red Bull rep to find out how you can also become a perfect online wholesaler
“Red Bull’s visit has been very informative, and has shown us some simple but effective measures that we can put in place. We will make sure we immediately apply the search bar changes, for example, so that we are not losing out on sales, and to ensure that we give our customers the best possible service.”
“It is important that you make it easier and more visually appealing for your customers to shop on your websites. And in line with that, it is vital that your suppliers work with you in order to help you fully capitalise on the growing ecommerce opportunity.”