As opportunities go, summer is the big one for wholesalers. With the promise of fair weather, outdoor eating and drinking, social occasions, and sporting events, the UK loves nothing more than a good old British summer.
Whatever your business, from cash & carry to delivered or drinks specialist to foodservice, this time of year is a golden opportunity to cash in. Fukhera Khalid, managing director of Elbrook Cash & Carry, a Surrey-based wholesaler that specialises in drinks, sums it up succinctly.
Six ways to grow your summer sales
- MAKE A DAY OF IT: Hosting a trade day has a number of benefits, from building customer relationships to driving sales. Why not invite a local celebrity?
- RIGHT RANGE: The right products are crucial at any time of year but in summer, stocking up on soft drinks, beer, cider and bottled water will help you cash in.
- DEALS DEALS DEALS: Promotions on important summer lines and cross- promoting across a few different summer- related categories will give customers a heads-up on what they should be stocking.
- SPORTING HIGHLIGHTS: Sporting events offer a great opportunity to piggyback sales. From the World Cup to Wimbledon, tailoring your promotions to take into account what customers want to consume during a major event will help you cash in.
- HEALTHY OPTIONS: 56% of the UK population is concerned about being overweight and 74% of households have concerns about health. Palmer and Harvey is helping retailers to respond to health- conscious consumers this summer.
- HAVE A PLAN B: A summer of poor weather will have an impact on sales so prepare to be adaptable. Have some promotions up your sleeve on categories that don’t need sunshine to sell.
“Summer is a really big deal for wholesalers and certainly for my business,” he says. “It’s the peak time of year.”
Khalid, a Today’s Group member, says there are three simple reasons that summer has become the highlight of his calendar. First, Christmas has become too competitive, with supermarkets offering such discounts that it’s virtually impossible to compete, making summer a better opportunity.
“Some people tend to leave present buying until the last couple of weeks before Christmas and even then categories such as electrical are the most lucrative,” says Khalid.
Second, when it’s hot, people are more inclined to shop locally than visit the supermarkets, meaning sales at independent retail outlets go up.
And third, sporting tournaments such as the World Cup, the Olympics and Wimbledon happen during summer, and that means people are socialising, eating, drinking and watching sport – whether that’s at home or in a pub.
For the UK’s number one delivered wholesaler, Palmer and Harvey, a focus on healthier lifestyle solutions will help retailers to capitalise on the growing trend towards more wholesome food choices. The wholesaler will provide customers with hints and tips on stocking healthy-option crisps, sandwiches and salads, along with a full range of healthy cereals and snacking options together with plenty of water, to support consumers who want to choose a healthier product when shopping for lunch.
Ian Daniels, business development controller at Palmer and Harvey, says: “By displaying together a selection
of products that are considered to be healthy, retailers can promote wellbeing and boost sales.”
According to the wholesaler, health foods have doubled as a driver of food choice over the past 10 years. Health is the sixth most influential factor in consumer decision-making, with 46% of shoppers ranking it as important, behind price, promotions, taste and familiarity.
Of course, there’s no getting away from the fact that good weather has a role to play in the success of a summer. If the sun shines then people will shop; if it doesn’t then sales are affected. But there are steps wholesalers can take to cash in on summer, even if the weather doesn’t deliver.
Promotional activity is an obvious but crucial tactic. Offering value on the categories that are most likely to perform well over the summer months – and passing that value on to your customers – is an effective way to drive sales. Categories including soft drinks, alcohol, ice cream, anything associated with barbecues and outdoor cooking, and seasonal products such as sun cream are all worth your attention.
Trade days are an excellent way to drive footfall, promote products and interact with your regular customers – as well as to potentially meet new ones. Many independent wholesalers use barbecues, celebrity appearances or even a bit of sporting activity to successfully mix business with pleasure.
Birmingham wholesaler East End Foods, a Landmark member, hosts an annual trade day every year. Senior staff show up and interact with customers over a three-day period, taking it in turns to cook on the barbecue.
At Elbrook, inviting local celebrities to join in has been a fun and different way to attract a crowd. Talksport host Alan Brazil and the footballer Dave Beasant have both taken part in previous years.
This summer’s FIFA World Cup is a prime example of a sporting tournament offering opportunity for wholesalers. Buying group Landmark is determined to make it easy for its wholesale members to cash in.
“It’s a special summer and either we can sit there and do nothing, or we make the most of it and grab the opportunity,” says Landmark business development director Chris Doyle.
Doyle says the opportunity applies to all kinds of wholesale customers, from pubs, which can show the matches on screens and offer meals-deals and drinks promotions, to retailers, which can offer customers a good price on beer and cider and cross-promote with snacks or even barbecue foods, weather-permitting.
This year sees Landmark undertaking its biggest ever promotional campaign. As well as offering price promotions on a range of products, it is giving wholesalers the tools they need to pass the savings on to customers. Doyle says the ‘All You Need’ approach is an all- inclusive method that will join the dots for wholesalers on what is a major event and a massive opportunity.
“It’s our biggest and best ever promotional campaign. It does involve price promotions but it also helps retailers to sell it on,” he says. “We are giving retailers all they need in one user-friendly package, making sure everyone has the right products on their shelves at the right time.
“We tested it last year and now we’re rolling it out for the World Cup. It’s a great business-driving activity for wholesalers and their customers.”
What makes Landmark’s World Cup activity a little bit different is the fact it has been designed with suppliers in mind. Doyle, who has previously worked on the supplier side, wanted to make the promotion work as well for suppliers as for Landmark.
“I designed it from a supplier’s point of view,” he says. “I asked myself what I would want if I was them, talking to a wholesaler?”
Another growth area that is affected by the seasons is sauces. Strongly associated with barbecues and outdoor-eating, condiments are a crucial component of summer sales. A recent development within sauces has been the trend for high street restaurants to reproduce their products for the retail market. All About Food, which markets sauces on behalf of high street restaurant chain Nando’s, has products available for the wholesale channel and summer is a good time to promote them.
“Summer is a good time for the sauces category in general – the warm barbecue weather helps to drive sales. Nando’s is doing well because people try the sauces when they are eating out and then want to replicate the taste when they get home,” says Chris McLaughlin, sales director at All About Foods.
He adds: “Wholesale is quite a new area for us so we’ve made an effort to speak to people at Landmark, Today’s, Bestway and Booker, to name but a few, about what the channel needs. The response was that they wanted more price-marked packs but with better shared margins so they could help retailers to offer a competitive price.”
Stocking the right products is one part of the process, but displaying them effectively is another. And it’s not only about promotions either. Using point-of-sale material in-depot and building secondary displays that include products from a va- riety of different categories will highlight the summer opportunity to customers
– and it has to the potential to get them thinking about something differently.
“People tend to stick with the same brands in winter – but they’re more experimental in summer,” says Elbrook Cash & Carry’s Fukhera Khalid.