Telesales provide a point of contact

First of all, let’s take a quick look at who uses delivered wholesale and why? Thirty one per cent of delivered wholesale customers are hotels, restaurants and bars, 22% are convenience stores, 18% are non-profit caterers, and 16% are forecourts, according to IGD Wholesale Report 2009.

These customers tell us that they are also using other sources such as cash and carries, discounters and other regional suppliers (especially in the case of caterers) to source items.

So why do customers choose to use delivered? The overriding answer is convenience (around 60%). However, having more time in the business 12% (retailers), 19% (caterers) is also an important factor for customers.

But how convenient is using delivered wholesale currently? Satisfaction ratings are really encouraging and have improved year on year, but there is always room for improvement.

It is no surprise, then, that availability is causing frustrations and leads to lost sales. Retailers say three out of 10 deliveries don’t contain everything they ordered, while the figure is one out of 10 for caterers.

But the main frustration comes from a lack of communication about the missing products, leaving retailers and caterers without the products they need, meaning they turn to cash and carries or local suppliers or supermarkets/discounters in distress to top up missing items or ingredients.


Common complaints

Standard complaints from retailers and caterers include: “I want to know before deliveries arrive, give me an alternative option,” and “If they warned us, at least we would know where we stand.”

The telesales team could provide the answer to this issue if only they could inform their customers in advance of missing items from their delivery and use this opportunity to suggest an alternative or special promotion/NPD.

How do customers rate the “ease of order”? Well, it seems that it is pretty easy for most. Seventy eight per cent of retailers say the ordering process is excellent and acceptable, while 86% of caterers say that it is excellent and acceptable. But both say it could always be “easier”.

The web is an increasingly important vehicle of communication. Twenty two per cent of retailers now order via the web an increase from 15% in 2008 but not all customers are aware about web ordering services. The big implication for suppliers is whether or not their products have maximum visibility online.

Telesales staff have a significant role to play for delivered wholesalers as in the majority of cases the staff are the main point of interaction and the “voice” of the company. Staff need to be energetic and enthusiastic when dealing with customers.

Between 50-70% of customers do order via phone (more caterers), so do telesales staff do enough to influence their purchasing decisions? The answer is unclear with only a quarter of retailers and 17% of caterers reporting that telesales staff do have an influence on what they order.

So how are telesales staff doing overall? Customers’ ratings for ‘service by telesales and delivery staff’ have improved on 2008. However, a third of customers say that they are never informed of NPD and a quarter say that they are never informed of promotions, although this has improved slightly year on year.

Price List and Order Forms (PLOFs) could also be a more effective form of communication 45% of retailers read adverts from PLOFs compared with 25% of caterers. And do adverts in PLOFs influence purchasing decisions? The answer is a resounding “yes”, especially for retailers.

But are we communicating the right things? Customers definitely want to know about promotions 30% of caterers say they are buying more on promotion year on year and 18% are offering more promotions to their customers.

But it’s not all about price and promotions. When asked how they decide which exact products to sell in their store or buy for their Features > Business, caterers said it was all about the quality of products and customer demand.

Wholesalers and suppliers need to work together to maximise the use of PLOFs as a ‘communication tool’, introduce ‘RaRa’ days with telesales teams to get them excited about NPD and create incentives and competitions to encourage them to talk up products. The telesales team are the biggest opportunity for suppliers get them on board, increase your presence on the delivered wholesalers’ websites and prioritise the relevant ‘messages’.

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