Smaller stores are finding it harder to use a delivered wholesale service following Bestway’s decision to increase minimum order quantities (MOQ) for free deliveries.

On 7 October, the wholesaler increased the MOQ, excluding tobacco, required to qualify for free delivery from £750 to £1,000. Any order between £500 and £1,000 incur a £25 service charge, while orders under £500 can only be collected at a retailer’s chosen depot.

It is the second time this year Bestway has increased the MOQ required for free delivery. Retailers told betterRetailing it had increased from £500 to £750 in March.

The changes, which were communicated to retailers in an internal message, also include a £25 (£30 including VAT) charge for an optional handball service, where delivery drivers will help unpack the stock and deliver it into the store for retailers. betterRetailing understands the fee is new.

The rise puts Bestway’s MOQ at the same level as Booker’s. Despite it being official Booker policy, invoices seen by betterRetailing show it had allowed orders of under £1,000 until it ordered depot managers to begin strictly enforcing the policy in spring 2019.

Read more: Booker slashes minimum order quantities, but adds new delivery fees

Bestway customer Gaurave Sood, of Neelam Convenience & Post Office in Uxbridge, London, told betterRetailing: “Retailers are finding it harder and harder to order non-tobacco stock since the increases have come in.

“The handball fee makes a big difference for the smaller retailer because it suddenly means you have to either increase your own prices or take a hit, which is hard to take. If you’ve got a typical elderly couple running a shop, it also makes it physically harder for them. It’s all an added cost at the end of the day. It does make a difference.”

Earlier this month, Bestway announced changes to its delivery network, including order tracking, a four-hour delivery window and centralising all chilled and bakery deliveries from one central hub. Ashar Rehman, head of operations at Bestway Wholesale, claimed 44% of Bestway sales are now delivered.

A Bestway spokesperson responding to the MOQ said: “A high number of our retailers are already ordering over £1,000 and we are proactively working with individual customers to ensure they have the right delivery schedule, which allows them to benefit from free deliveries while supporting their business in the most appropriate way.

“The increase brings us in line with the industry and follows a review of our delivered business, taking into account the increasing costs in both labour and logistics against the ongoing challenging market and economic uncertainty.

“This increase allows us to be more efficient in our delivery operations and to provide a better service for customers.”