Getting online ordering right

Following the release of HIM’s Wholesale Online Report, Commercial Innovation Manager Josh Clifton picks out the findings that are crucial for wholesalers to pay attention to and suggests how to act on the knowledge

Many leading wholesalers in the UK have begun to place a much greater focus on their digital platforms over the past few years.

That’s a shrewd investment given that delivered wholesale now accounts for 55% of the total retail wholesale value (vs 45% cash and carry). Almost all the delivered growth has come digitally, with 98% of delivered retailers using online as their primary method of ordering – this figure was just 24% 10 years ago, with the majority placing orders via telephone.

While this shift does show that wholesalers are beginning to move with the times, the industry still has some way to go if digital opportunities are to be realised to their full potential.

Only a handful of wholesalers currently have app platforms, which provide their customers with an additional touchpoint (perhaps a more convenient one too), while too many wholesaler websites attempt to replicate what is generally known to be successful on B2C e-commerce sites, such as and Amazon.

Suppliers can also be guilty of relying too heavily on B2C digital insights and often lead conversations they have with wholesalers with such data.

While B2C shopping apps have been a staple for a few years now, B2B equivalents are still in their infancy. However, those wholesalers who have launched them are already reaping the benefits.



Our latest research from the HIM Wholesale Online Report sees us work with some of the UK’s largest wholesalers to understand the true behaviours of retailers towards digital wholesale platforms. The report highlights that app transactions are typically 18% higher in value and contain 18% more items.

With some behaviours now ingrained from social media, many retailers will scroll through much more content than they typically would on web, which as well as generating more sales opportunities, also creates another useful platform for wholesalers to provide media and activation mechanics.

The report identifies that wholesaler apps can also unlock some big missed opportunities for NPD – currently only circa 1% of online sessions contain NPD-content viewing, in part due to the difficulty of finding such products on web.

While still not being fully leveraged on apps, the NPD carousel (product lists that can be swiped through left to right) does still take a 33% share (other carousels include Offers For You (35%) and Trended Products (33%)), showing an appetite from retailers to browse new products.

Wholesale is yet to fully embrace deep links (links that direct users to internal pages of any app) and rich push notifications (push notifications that contain additional media, such as audio and media), both of which would no doubt increase NPD viewing and sales.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach for B2B e-commerce. Wholesalers and suppliers must understand the behaviours of retailers and tailor their approach accordingly. Those ahead of the game are in a great position to succeed.

apps e-commerce guest column HIM suppliers Wholesalers