Blog Post - Martin Girdlestone, Nov 11 2015

​Wholesale & digital sales channels: Disrupt or be disrupted

​Wholesale & digital sales channels: Disrupt or be disrupted

By Martin Girdlestone, Head of Consultancy, Salmon

Up until this point, digital commerce has been predominantly led by consumer-facing industries and organisations. Indeed, almost two-thirds (63%) of respondents in this study stated their belief that digital commerce is more relevant to B2C than B2B.

But this isn’t entirely true. While being an industry slow to adapt, with the majority of businesses continuing to use traditional approaches to lead generation and sales, this is starting to change. How exactly is still to be determined, but as wholesalers face the pressure of living in an increasingly digital society, the sector must now consider changing its stance, charting its own disruption or run the risk of being disrupted.

When looking at the impact of digital on B2B, a third (33%) of wholesale businesses state digital commerce is important to their industry, with this figure set to rise to 53% by 2020. Improvements in reputation (30%) and the ability to provide discounts and special offers (20%) are cited as the main benefits. Moreover three in five (59%) recognise that B2B organisations have not yet realised the potential of digital commerce.

However, the fear is that wholesale businesses, despite making the investment, are not in the position to do so effectively and reap the benefits. After all, a significant number (87%) of wholesalers have already experienced challenges in adopting digital commerce.

But, it’s important to note that the sector has the beauty of hindsight. To succeed it needs to review the challenges faced by other sectors to make sure it doesn’t fall fate to the same issues, as well as ensuring someone within the businesses has the skill-set to drive digital strategies.

The future of the world is ‘digital’ so, simply put, so is the future of wholesale. The experience wholesalers have, as they begin this journey, wholly depends on their approach to it.

Salmon’s report, ‘British Business in the Digital Age’, explores the current and future state of digital commerce in Britain across five key sectors, including retail grocery, retail non-grocery, retail luxury, manufacturing and wholesale.