For many retailers, especially those chained to the counter, the trip to the cash & carry is a welcome reprieve. It’s a time to think, to meet with other retailers and to consider new products, offers and how it would work in your store.

This doesn’t mean it’s easy or efficient. I don’t think there’s one other sector where it’s thought of as a valid use of a managerial level staff member’s time to try and push three trollies up and down a warehouse, but what are the other options?

Providing value for customers is the number one priority for my store, and telephone and fax ordering doesn’t allow retailers to get the most out of offers. Meanwhile, I often find that wholesalers just don’t understand the importance of an ‘omnichannel’ approach – providing the same service and prices online and offline. All too often, I find products to be more expensive, or deals to be missing on apps and websites.

There’s no doubt that as the younger generation begins taking over their parents stores, the amount of online orders will grow begrudgingly. But to really get retailers onboard with online, wholesalers need to learn a thing or two from consumer facing online grocery businesses. Multiples had the exact same incentives for driving online deliveries – lower overheads, less staff and greater economies of scale. They also met the same resistance in that their customers had rigid habits and were cautious of losing out on offers, or getting saddled with products with bad dates.

To overcome this they made sure there were incentives for their customers as well, leading an online lowest pricing strategy, using exclusive web deals and giving percentages off for first-time and repeat customers.

Wholesalers, like many retailers, view technology with suspicion, viewing it as a risky investment, but the measures shown above offer a means to improving online that doesn’t require nearly any capital outlay. As much as this shows a path for cash & carries, it’s also a warning.

If you are slow to adapt to online, there are others that will be quick to exploit it. Alibaba is already in the UK wholesale market elsewhere, and I’m sure there’s another tech giant beginning with A that’s watching very, very closely.