The inaugural BW Summit was staged last week (13 July) in the centre of Birmingham. One week on, here are the trends, tips, and actionable points that have stuck with us from attending the tech-themed wholesaling summit.

1. 43% of consumers now expect products to be brought to them

This point, delivered by Josh McBain of Future Foundation, who got the Summit under way, highlights just how much expectation of service has changed, and how wholesalers need to adapt their businesses accordingly in order to move with the times.

2. Wholesalers should embrace the USPs Amazon can’t match

Better Wholesaling publisher Chris Gamm spoke about the ‘Uberfication’ of society, and while noting that Amazon Fresh boasts the technology and the logistics, Gamm urged wholesalers to look at what they have over Amazon – in particular, product knowledge, people, and customer loyalty.

3. ‘Repeat my order’ options aren’t foolproof

85% of JJ Food Service’s online sales coming through its predictive ordering option. But COO Mushtaque Ahmed told delegates that “if there’s a match on, or it’s rainy, or it’s sunny, that option doesn’t work, so you need to also give the decision back to the customer.”

4. Your website algorithms could be failing you on speed

Tim Williams, MD of software logistics firm BCP urged delegates to take heed of the fact that if their customers have to type the full product name into the search bar on the online ordering system, “that’s too slow”, as it doesn’t align with online shoppers’ need for speed.

5. Digital vouchers > paper vouchers

According to research cited by Williams, digital vouchers have a 16% uptake, compared to a 1% uptake on paper vouchers, demonstrating that wholesalers need to adapt their promotions to have a focus geared towards generating such custom through their online channel.

6. Don’t completely abandon focusing on your human side

“Generation Y still want human interaction, but they also want multiple channels available to them,” Musgrave Wholesale Partners (MWP) MD Noel Keeley told delegates. “You need to give people a reason to interact with each of these channels.”

7. A glimpse at the future of cash and carries

Keeley unveiled MWP’s Ballymun Food Emporium, a next-gen cash and carry that boasst a culinary demo centre, where products are cooked for customers to taste, “creating theatre and a destination”, plus a mock-up c-store and a fast-food offer that retailers can run as a franchise.

8. Urgent need for wholesalers to have a five-year plan

Industry expert David Gilroy implored wholesalers to “think about where they want to be in five years’ time. 80,000 sq ft units with hardly anyone inside, with 50% of stock delivered, that’s not sustainable. Major rethinking is needed.”

9. Social media really is your friend

Social media expert Pete Doyle informed businesses not embracing social media that the best social media content is “customer-generated stories”. He added: “The secret is around listening, and if you have the time, you can build a competitive advantage.”

10. Social media really was our friend

Our first-ever BW Summit was a roaring success, not least for the fact that the tech-themed event was a Twitter trending topic in host city Birmingham for several hours. At one point #BWSummit16 was the second-most Tweeted topic in the UK’s second city, trailing only #PMQs.


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