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  • Writer's pictureMarc Warburton

B2B: The £11.5bn sales channel where 50% of your sales occur online.

Yep you did read that correctly:

50% of your sales through wholesalers in the UK are occurring online.

Now that's quite a stat. Imagine if 50% of your sales through Tesco were occurring online. Maybe that would be the final incentive that your business needs to start properly resourcing what is, let's face it, the most interesting and exciting part of FMCG by miles!!!

But how can you speak {write} with such folly?

Surely we all know that the mirky world of Cash and Carry (C&C) in the UK is way behind their uber sophisticated Bricks & Clicks and Pure Play brethren when it comes to anything vaguely sophisticated like the amount of business they sell online.

(okay maybe not for Pure Play, but definitely the case for Bricks & Clicks).

Well in some ways C&Cs are behind - way behind- as we shall see in a mo or two; but when it comes to share of business online, Tesco, JS, ASDA, Waitrose, Morrisons (and maybe soon the Co-op too!) are just so last century.

Here's some stats from the inter-tweb and other fun places:

- Share of Booker's business sold online in 2017: 22%.

- Parfett's forecast business sold online in 2019: 29%.

- Retail Charity 'I''s forecast for % C&C business sold online by 2021: 18% (think you got that one wrong lads, sorry!).

- Share of C&C retailer 'B''s business sold online in client 'P''s core category last year: 47%.

- Forecast for major multinational 'C''s share of business in B2B online in 2019: >60%.

Need I continue?

For anybody who needs convincing of the disruptive effect of online on a (very) traditional retail channel in the UK, please look no further. For anybody who wants to benefit from this, please keep reading.

So what's going on?

Well in a nutshell, the B2B shoppers (aka small store retailers) have realised that it really is much easier to complete regular order replenishment, and maybe discovery of some new stuff, by using a handy device to place an order. Even better if it can then be delivered for free.

Whoah, whoah, whoah hang on a minute.

How can you know all this when we all know that data is a bit sketchy in this channel, and you can't knowledgeably talk about anything digital without water tight data knowledge? Right?

erm. Wrong. Here's some data tips for this channel that we think give you more than enough knowledge:

1) Don't use big name international houses that have built their business on grocery EPOS. Yawn.

2) Do use Sales Out (little plug there for you).

3) Do use Google as it's amazing what you can find. Also talk to your retail partners as it's amazing what you will learn.

4) Do use retail charity 'I''s forecasts with a pinch of salt (or maybe a catering value pack of the white stuff might be better...).

5) Do use some common sense and GCSE level 9 modelling.

Okay, okay, okay. I'm convinced. So what do we do about it?

Here's what we do about it for our clients:

1) Complete a Shopper Experience Review of the channel, because as you'll soon realise if you don't know already, the shopper interface on some of the sites is, quite frankly 'full of opportunity'. Then use this to build the business case, when you also:

2) Work out the size of the prize to convince the higher ups to take it seriously. And believe me you can do this credibly, even in the absence of data provider 'N''s magic sauce.

3) Create a digital commerce B2B channel strategy. 4 Ps anyone?

4) Build a B2B online Perfect Store to help your business and your retail partners' businesses know exactly what to do.

5) Hold hands and elevate happily to B2B Valhalla (currently nearing the end of S02 Vikings. Sorry).

But why should we? I thought you said 50% of our business was online already in this channel?

Okay, fair point. It might not be yet. But for some people it is, and when that's the prize that's there for the taking, wouldn't you rather have it before your competitors do?.

Please feel free to 'reach out' if you'd like to know more. Now I'm off to enjoy the snow.

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