Guest column: How to win with retailers

Unitas Retail Director John Kinney poses the questions wholesalers should be asking themselves to ensure they’re delivering the best possible service for retail customers

It’s never been more important for wholesalers to take time to understand their retail customers. This enables you to create the business strategy that delivers the greatest return on your existing or potential customer base. Develop a plan that meets customer needs, fund and communicate the plan, and then execute and review it continually.

We know retailers span the spectrum, from kiosks and small forecourts to small-scale supermarkets, and so it’s natural their requirements will vary too.

Wholesalers should focus on the greatest opportunity available and delivering it. For those retailers driven solely by cost, wholesalers need to deliver value but build customer count and spend to justify the lower margin. This can be done by encouraging occasional retailers to visit more often and the existing customer base to increase their spend. However, if your retailers are less price-driven, investing in services may be critical. Make retailers’ lives easier with deliveries, click and collect, web and app platforms, and social media updates. It could be that a retailer’s point of difference over their competition is being first to market for NPD or offering exclusive or niche products, so it’s essential you understand what your customers are relying on.



Plan your approach and how you’ll deliver it. Get your team on-side and ensure everyone understands the objectives. Then, continually ask yourself, your team and your customers if it’s working.

Think about the practicalities for retailers: is the car park secure or are they rushing to get back to their vehicle? Are there plenty of trollies? Is the depot easy to navigate? Is there a top-level category map?

The same goes for your online presence: is it easy for retailers to find what they’re looking for? Is it up to date without missing information or images? Do you have eye-catching POS or are you expecting the customers to just know about your promotions? Is the POR clearly stated to encourage purchases? Do you know your availability on a daily basis and do you review as a matter of urgency? Do you operate a policy that a KVI line is never out of stock?

Are you monitoring aisles ahead of queues at checkouts? Are you featuring low-price pick-up lines near checkouts to gain that extra sale both online and in depot? How are you building awareness of seasonal ranges ahead of the actual sales window? Are you creating opportunities for retailers to take advantage of?



For some retailers, the trip to the depot is a catch-up with others, while for some it needs to be a grab-andgo experience. Are you catering for both? How do you communicate your promotions? Are you embracing WhatsApp groups and social media, or do you stick with paper brochures? Have you asked your customers which they’d prefer?

How do you use your data? For some wholesalers, the information is available in their EPOS systems but not utilised. Where are your customers coming from? Are you targeting campaigns and promotions to the right retailers? Recognise your best customers’ loyalty with a greeting and a voucher for a free coffee or money off.

Use data wisely. Recognise what retailers are buying. They may just buy beers, wines and spirits, so offer them a voucher to entice them to get their grocery or confectionery too. Talk to them and find out why they shop around and use your data to create a bespoke campaign.

Data-driven targeted campaigns will grow arms and legs over the next few years as suppliers reduce flat-price investment but will look for wholesalers that have the capability to better target their investment. A £5 investment to a few will give a better reward than £1 off all, especially when you are discounting a product they already intended to buy.

click and collect customer service data delivery John Kinney online range retail retailers Unitas Wholesale