We spoke to Tom Gittens, managing director at Confex, to discuss how wholesalers can increase sales during festive periods.
What actions and steps do you take to capitalise on profitable periods throughout the year? Can you name examples?
Confex wholesalers are definitely busier during the summer months. As the British Summer kicks in, so does sales of soft drinks, which is our biggest category as a buying group. To capitalise on the summer ‘rush,’ we work with our suppliers to ensure continuity of supply during these busy periods. Forecasting and an element of building up a good stock holding go into planning so that the Confex wholesaler can ensure he keeps up with spikes in demand while maintaining high service levels. Seasonal is also another time when Confex wholesalers tend to increase sales. It has been great to see the development of ‘seasonal occasions’ representing the true diversity of the UK population. This includes festive holidays such as Diwali, Ramadan, Eid, Veganuary and LGBTQ+ month.
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How important is your work with suppliers during these periods? Do they advise and lead on how you should operate during specific periods?
Suppliers, especially their marketing departments, are great at setting out their full year marketing plans so that our wholesalers can then plan, promote and maximise sales for these busy trading periods. Confex Head office then puts in place a Joint Business plan with our key suppliers to ensure both parties are aligned on one common mutual strategy. By working collaboratively, suppliers and wholesalers have become well oiled machines, able to implement complex activity in order to drive incremental sales revenue.
Read more: Confex group sales up by 30%
Can you names specific examples of methods you’ve tried that have had a positive effect on your business for certain months?
We find that presell to wholesalers is the most important part of any seasonal campaign. Ensuring that Confex can communicate Christmas and Easter brand plans along with product specs as early as possible have been the key to success for Confex. In 2020 we decided to go digital as opposed to print for our seasonal catalogue, which has resulted in a double digit sales uptake. There are two elements to this success in that digital now outsells print allied with the fact we went digital only has resulted in cut the print and brochure delivery times. The result is that our wholesalers have been able to access and sell seasonal information three weeks earlier than usual.
With the launch of our data insight service, we will be able to analyse seasonal sales out data for the first time that will be integral in helping to shape our JBP’s with suppliers going forward.
Read more: Confex moves to new headquarters and staff flexi-working pattern
2021 saw Confex employ our first full time Digital & social media executive, who has produced a digital media plan across the year with our key suppliers. This planning of digital assets across multiple social platforms has helped to maximise brand/NPD exposure at key times across the year with an uplift in sales during seasonal periods.
Confex is currently coordinating a project with suppliers to include best seller information within our member dashboard. This includes seasonal must stocks along with detailed core ranges for different end user types. Confex will then be able to provide our wholesalers with this information whenever they open a supplier account, ensuring correct ranging and SKU fit’s for their individual business needs.