Customers turning more to the C Cs

The often held view is that sales through delivered wholesale will continue to grow over the next few years with cash and carry sales holding steady, at best, but the latest research by him! indicates this trend is changing.

him! has recently spoken to 3,500 independent retailers while they were shopping in cash and carries throughout the UK about their sourcing habits to understand whether they were planning to use cash and carries or delivered wholesalers more in the future.

A year ago they told us they were sourcing nearly half (42%) of the goods sold in their shop from a delivered wholesaler, but this has dropped slightly in the last 12 months so now 39% of their goods are being sourced through a delivered wholesaler.

And retailers predict that they will source 40% of the goods for their stores through delivered wholesalers in the next 12 months, so for the time being it looks like retailers will not be sourcing any more of their goods through delivered wholesalers and therefore we could predict there will be a plateau in usage of delivered wholesalers. This could be due to the following reasons:

l Cash carries are (or are perceived to be) cheaper than delivered wholesale.

l Where a fuel surcharge was introduced, retailers and foodservice operators could have looked for alternative options. With delivered wholesale some retailers incur a fuel surcharge and/or have to place a minimum order.

l Due to the credit crunch retailers are doing more last minute or hand-to-mouth topping up due to cash flow challenges.

l Going to the cash and carry gives the retailer the freedom to go when they want to or need to, instead of having to plan an order in advance therefore giving the retailers more control.

l Retailers have got back into the habit of going to the cash and carry in some cases enjoying the visit as part of a social network.

l Visiting the cash and carry means retailers can compare the products and prices while they are in front of them and can visually inspect them.

l Now that the price of petrol has now started to fall this could also encourage retailers to return to the cash and carry more over the next few months.

The majority of independent retailers said that their main wholesaler is a national wholesaler such as Booker or Palmer and Harvey, with 31% saying they use a regional wholesaler, for example Landmark member Bellevue, and 22% say that they use a small local wholesaler.

After seven years of interviewing retailers and caterers in cash and carries, we thought it was about time to speak to those retailers and caterers who source products from delivered wholesalers, so a delivered wholesale tracking programme was launched in 2008. We have spoken to independent retailers and caterers and the key headlines from him!’s new Delivered Wholesale Tracking Programme will be published in ProWholesaler next month. Operators involved in the programme include Booker, Brakes and Palmer and Harvey.

Some of the topics covered in the study include:

l How important is the delivered wholesale channel to its customers?

l Will they order more, the same or less products through the delivered wholesaler in the next 12 months?

l What are they buying from each delivered wholesaler, by category, and why?

l How do shoppers place their order?

l What role do telesales staff play in the switching of brands?

l Do they always keep buying the same products or do they search for other products too?

l How can products get onto a shopping list?

l The role of PLOF, promotions, PMP/NPD in influencing spending

l Basket size, typical spend and service ratings to allow benchmarking between delivered wholesalers.

For more information contact 020 7611 0404/ 07920 566723 or visit [].

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