Getting to know the independent caterers

Impulse spend by caterers in cash and carries is restricted because only two thirds of caterer shoppers in cash and carries are the owner or manager of the catering outlet, meaning that one third of shoppers are not the decision maker in the business. Catering staff are not often given the freedom to take advantage of promotions or lack the confidence to deviate from the shopping list. The majority of caterers take a shopping list with them to the cash and carry and stick to it.

Most caterers also pay in cash to avoid the charges cash and carries impose for paying by debit/credit card. Again this means that caterers do not have the opportunity to be impulsive as they only have a set amount of cash on them to spend in that trip. Caterers also feel uncomfortable carrying large amounts of money around with them.

This all means suppliers need to influence the caterers to get their products on their shopping list, and there is an opportunity to do this in cash and carries because caterers say that they would like more information on new products and new promotions in the depot. Caterers say that they like to see suppliers in depots promoting new products and providing advice, and they would also like menu suggestions, advice on range and information on consumer trends.

The average spend per trip by caterers at cash and carries is lower than independent retailers, at pound;300, because they generally do not buy as many high value items such as alcohol and cigarettes. However caterers do visit cash and carries more frequently than independent retailers because they are buying more fresh and short-life items.

Cash and carries have a good approval rating from caterers with 82% saying they feel valued as a customer. However the 18% who feel less valued are promiscuous and turn to alternative sources for their purchases such as delivered wholesalers, supermarkets and other local suppliers.

They use delivered wholesalers on average 2.7 times a week because it is convenient for bulky items, and they average 2.2 trips a week to supermarkets for top-up shopping or items they run out of.

Availability was highlighted as an issue in the programme’s findings last year, and is still of paramount importance to caterers. Non food items remained the highest failed purchase followed by cooking aids and sauces. The majority of caterers said that the reason they could not buy these items is because they were out of stock, followed by “couldn’t find it”. When caterers fail to buy an item there is a massive loss of sales for cash and carries, with 28% saying that they will go without until their next shopping trip, and 46% saying they will buy it from another source, and only 19% buying another item.

When comparing this year’s results with last year’s, convenience and speed of shop is becoming more important with an increase in the number of shoppers who prefer fast service and the ability to move quickly around the store.

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=== Importance ratings 2006 vs. 2007 ===

2006 2007

Availability 71% 60%

Value for money 50% 51%

Cheap prices 35% 34%

Fast friendly service 35% 42%

Promotions 28% 22%

Ease of getting around 21% 29%

Range/quality of fresh food 15% 14%

Staff knowledge 12% 17%

Cleanliness/tidiness 7% 7%

Range of own label products 4% 7%

Relationship with staff 3% 5%

Don’t know 2% 3%

Source: him!

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