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Covid-19 dwarfs Christmas as a driver for online wholesale shopping and the trend continues through April

Covid-19 dwarfs Christmas as a driver for online wholesale shopping and the trend continues through April.

As Covid-19 continues to devastate lives and economies around the world, it has also instigated the biggest uptake in eCommerce activity ever recorded in Wholesale, according to figures released by RNF this morning/today. 

On March 16, the UK government advised the public to stay away from pubs, restaurants and cafes and unknowingly unleashed a massive increase in eCommerce activity in the UK grocery sector.

Rob Mannion, founder and CEO of RNF, explained: During March and April we have watched two very different stories unfold: On the one hand, wholesalers whose principle category is grocery were hit with unprecedented demand as panic buying ensued; while for those serving the hospitality sector or schools, their customer base disappeared overnight, leaving many to pivot to B2C models or adopt the government’s furlough scheme as means of survival. 

“Due to the unprecedented nature of the pandemic, we have no way of accurately predicting what is around the corner but our latest data suggests that the surge to online, in wholesale at least, might not be disappearing as quickly as it rose.”

While eCommerce sales have declined slightly from the phenomenal levels* experienced in March, the total number of orders processed through RNF’s wholesale apps between February and April saw a 26% increase, along with a 19% increase in basket size.

The company also noted the eight biggest grocery online days ever during March and April, all of which topped the previous highest seen in the run up to Christmas 2019, while average order values increased from £1085 to £1288 and active wholesale app users rose to 18,500. 

The number of retailers using RNF wholesaler apps also rose by 38% between February and March and, while there was a small reduction in users in April, this figure remained 30% higher than before the pandemic. Shopping behaviour has changed too, with online orders increasingly being processed in the evening, illustrating the flexibility that mobile ordering can offer.

David Gilroy, managing director at Store Excel – the fastest growing digital platform for small independent store owners in the UK said: “We are clearly operating in a new world of doing business and in this new world there are big potential wins for both wholesalers and suppliers.

“Wholesalers absolutely must have an effective app and online capability to optimise their selling channels. Suppliers would be crazy not to access the rich data that resides in the transactional history that electronic trading affords. Immediacy is the key and  RNF are the leaders in this area. Their insights and market reads are unmatched.”

Rob Mannion, concluded: “Digital ordering has been growing steadily over the last few years but the Covid-19 crisis has accelerated that in a way we could never have imagined. 

“Whilst some of that increase was due to panic-buying which has now eased, it would appear the move to digital is here to stay. We have live data from all our apps at our fingertips meaning we can see more quickly than ever the impact of events such as this pandemic. If anyone would like to learn more, then please just get in touch.”