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Don’t switch off to tech

With mobile technology now gaining serious traction in wholesale, our MD Rob explains why 2019 is a critical year for the industry’s business owners to embrace digital commerce. 

When FWD hosted its Future of Wholesale Conference at St. George’s Park earlier this year, it brought sharply into focus a key area that the industry urgently needs to address further: customer engagement.

For any wholesaler hoping to keep up with the increasingly challenging market, the audience was told by respected speakers from across the industry that they must ensure they’re meeting customer needs, so effectively engaging with them has never been more important.

Emerging digital sales tools are moving at a fast pace. They’ve evolved from company websites to transactional website, and are now morphing to mobile-optimised sites and native apps. Native apps give the wholesalers and suppliers an unprecedented opportunity to engage with their end users using technologies such as push notifications. Something that simply isn’t possible with a mobile-optimised website.


No longer do wholesalers need to rely on retailers or caterers to visit their depot or their website to deliver personalised promotions, because mobile app technology can target them with a push notification at the optimum time for an individual customer’s behaviour.

We understand the dangers of sending unwanted or irrelevant content to users, but of the thousands of monthly active users going through our system, 92% have push-enabled which outlines the huge opportunity for the sector.

Native apps themselves are also evolving for wholesale. Where once they were a simple sales platform designed to make ordering more accessible for retailers, they are now developing into a much more sophisticated offering. Functions such as order tracking, raising and tracking customer service queries and claims, interactive chat with customer services and  e-billing are all being introduced and are driving up customer engagement.


The evolution of digital B2B sales will continue to come into sharp focus in 2019. There’s great potential for new developments such as the increased deployment of machine learning strategies which will lead into the use of artificial intelligence. RNF is already starting to use algorithms to supplement many parts of its offering. These algorithms determine the optimum time and frequency that marketing messages should be sent to app users, increasing engagement even further.

For me it’s clear. Customer engagement is absolutely critical to the future of wholesale. For those already embracing it there are great rewards to be had. For those that aren’t it’s definitely time they started if they don’t want to get left behind. Now is the time for wholesalers to act, before it’s too late.

For more information on how an app could drive your business forward please contact us here.

This article originally appeared in the November 2018 edition of Wholesale News.