COMMENT: 'UK wholesalers can expect increased competition in the near future'

It’s not just consumers heading online to make purchases, industries are too – but when it comes to business-to-business transactions, it is best practice to include a mix of approaches, argues Andy Mulcahy, Editor at online retail association IMRG...

More and more of what we do is transferring online – or at least involves online in some way – and wholesale is no exception. By 2020, 27% of all business-to-business (B2B) trade is forecast to be completed online globally[i].

This shift opens up opportunities for new entrants to get involved in B2B, with Amazon Business being a notable example. It is already active in the US, where it offers a remarkable 20 million stock-keeping units (SKUs) across 250 categories, and is currently at the trial stage in the UK. What this means for UK-based wholesalers is that the competition for customers is likely to go up a considerable notch in the near future.

Yet ‘multichannel’ businesses (for example, those wholesalers who use a combination of both physical stores and online to serve their customers) arguably have an advantage in B2B wholesale. To help us understand what best practice approaches exist in multichannel we produced a report, supported by Maginus and Wolseley UK, based on interviews with a number of leading wholesalers who are already finding success in this space.

Read more on the topic from IMRG in Torque's latest digital magazine here.

[i] Frost & Sullivan, ‘Future of B2B Online Retailing’